All Blacks squad named for 2017 Rugby Championship

All Blacks squad named for 2017 Rugby Championship

The All Blacks selectors, Steve Hansen, Ian Foster and Grant Fox, have selected their squad for the 2017 Rugby Championship.


Utility back / Replacement 

Damian McKenzie (Waikato/Chiefs, 2)

The squad sees the returns of Chiefs and Counties Manukau tighthead prop Nepo Laulala and Hurricanes and Manawatu outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder, who last played for the national side in 2015.

Damian McKenzie has been named as a replacement for All Blacks Vice-Captain Ben Smith, who will take an extended break from the game following the first two Bledisloe Cup matches.

The 33-man squad will again be captained by number eight Kieran Read and sees 18 forwards selected (three hookers, five props, four locks and six loose forwards) and 15 backs (three halfbacks, two first five-eighths, four midfielders and six outside backs) and has a total of 1,109 Test caps experience.

The squad is made up of four Blues players, six Chiefs, eight Hurricanes, 10 Crusaders and five Highlanders, with 11 of New Zealand's Mitre 10 Cup provinces represented.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "Firstly, we congratulate all players selected for the Investec Rugby Championship, particularly Nepo and Nehe, who we welcome back. Conversely, we commiserate with those who have missed out, particularly Julian Savea and the unlucky Matt Todd, both of whom have made great contributions to the All Blacks jersey and will do so again in the future, I'm sure."

Hansen said the All Blacks were again looking forward to the first two Bledisloe Cup matches and the Investec Rugby Championship.

"For us, it's case of re-establishing ourselves and building on our good work from last year and during the recent New Zealand Lions Series.

Meanwhile, as they have done in some previous campaigns, the All Blacks selectors have also named an "apprentice", 22-year-old Chiefs and Waikato and former New Zealand Under 20 prop Atu Moli, who will assemble and train with the squad during the All Blacks' home Test weeks in the Investec Rugby Championship.

"We've used the apprentice programme in the past and think it's hugely beneficial for a player's development, so we look forward to working with Atu.  He's an outstanding player and an impressive young man who has a big future in the game," Hansen said.

One player, Otago and Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman, wasn't considered for selection as he's been ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

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