WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Veteran loose forward Jerome Kaino is in line for an All Blacks recall after missing the opening four rounds of the Rugby Championship due to a “personal issue”.
The 34-year-old dual World Cup winner played all three tests against the British and Irish Lions but flew home to New Zealand shortly before the Rugby Championship opener against the Wallabies in Sydney.
New Zealand Rugby said at the time that an Australian media report about his private life had necessitated his return to Auckland.
Kaino has been included in a 28-man tour squad for the Sept. 30 clash against Argentina in Buenos Aires along with flanker Matt Todd and lock Patrick Tuipulotu.
Following the All Blacks’ record 57-0 humiliation of South Africa on Saturday, Hansen has rested locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, loose forwards Liam Squire and Sam Cane, and backs Beauden Barrett and Ryan Crotty for the Pumas match.
Another group will return home after Argentina and ahead of the final away match against the Springboks as the All Blacks staff look to manage players’ workloads at the back end of the season.
“We struggled at times last year, this is the hardest time of the year for us, so we are just trying to think outside the box and think of ways to keep the players fresh,” Hansen said in a media release on Monday.
“This also gives us a chance to build player depth and experience.
“It puts a lot of pressure on us going to Argentina because they are a good side and we’ll need to play well to perform there, but we’re confident that the group we are taking there will be able to do the job.”
Kaino returned to training last week but missed the match at North Harbour Stadium where the All Blacks subjected South Africa to their worst test defeat.
The All Blacks are undefeated after four rounds of the Rugby Championship and can successfully defend their title with victory over the winless Pumas.
Forwards - Wyatt Crockett, Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala, Jeffery Toomaga Allen, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Patrick Tuipulotu, Vaea Fifita, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd
Backs - Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, David Havili, Damian McKenzie, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford