June 8, 2017 / 1:56 AM / a month ago

Coles, Barrett trio named in All Blacks squad for Lions series

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FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - New Zealand Training - Swansea University, Wales - 15/10/15 New Zealand's Dane Coles during training Action Images via Reuters / Peter Cziborra Livepic

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Injured All Blacks hooker Dane Coles was named alongside three Barrett brothers in Steve Hansen's All Blacks squad for the three-test series against the British and Irish Lions on Thursday.

Like Coles, who has barely played this season because of knee and calf injuries and concussion symptoms, captain Kieran Read and fellow loose forwards Liam Squire and Jerome Kaino were also were included in the 33-man squad despite not being fully fit.

Five additional players -- centre Jack Goodhue, hooker Liam Coltman and loose forwards Akira Ioane, Vaea Fifita and Matt Todd -- have been named as injury cover.

Uncapped fullback Jordie Barrett, flyhalf Beauden and lock Scott became the first trio of brothers to be named in the same All Blacks squad.

Hansen said he had no reservations about selecting Wellington Hurricanes' 20-year-old Jordie.

"His performances for the Hurricanes have been outstanding," he said. "If you're ready, you're ready.

"It's your ability to cope with pressure and display your skills and perform at that level.

"He has done that very easily ... and we think he is ready to step in and face whatever is chucked at him"

Hansen also selected bullocking inside centre Ngani Laumape after his scintillating season with the Hurricanes.

"He has been a standout, hasn't he?" Hansen added of the uncapped Laumape, who played union as a teenager, signed with rugby league's New Zealand Warriors before switching codes to union and joining the Hurricanes last year.

"For a young man who has just come back to rugby after spending a wee time in the wilderness playing league, to have him playing as well as he is, is great for New Zealand rugby."

Laumape's selection and the introduction of Canterbury Crusaders centre Goodhue as injury cover has resulted in Malakai Fekitoa, who was part of the 2015 World Cup winning squad, missing out altogether.

Other notable exclusions include winger Nehe Milner-Skudder after an injury-ravaged 16 months and Damian McKenzie, who played two tests last year and was pipped to a place by Jordie Barrett.

Milner-Skudder and McKenzie, however, have been named in a strong Maori All Blacks squad to face the Lions in Rotorua on June 17.

Hansen, perhaps preferring to stick with players proven at test level, has also selected prop Charlie Faumuina and flyhalf Aaron Cruden despite both having signed with European clubs for next season.

The All Blacks assemble in Auckland on Sunday to prepare for a test against Samoa on June 16. The first Lions test is on June 24.

Rieko Ioane, his brother Akira and Tawera Kerr-Barlow will be released to play for the Maori All Blacks on June 17, Hansen added. Waisake Naholo, Lima Sopoaga and Liam Squire will also play for the Otago Highlanders against the tourists four days earlier in Dunedin.

Prior to the tour, the Auckland Blues and Canterbury Crusaders were the only teams given approval to select their All Blacks.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney/Peter Rutherford

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