WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand named four uncapped players on Monday in the squad for their end-of-season tour but lock Brodie Retallick will not be on the plane to Europe as he deals with a personal matter.
Hooker Asafo Aumua, prop Tim Perry, centre Jack Goodhue and outside back Matt Duffie, a convert from rugby league, will all get the chance to press for an All Blacks debut after being named in Steve Hansen’s 37-man squad for the five-match tour.
“Adding the four new players to our squad will again allow us to expose more young talent to the highest level, where, history tells us, players grow and get better,” Hansen said.
“So this tour will complete a season of building depth and experience which, in the long run, will only benefit the team.”
The world champions will play tests against France (Nov. 11), Scotland (Nov. 18) and Wales (Nov. 25) as well as non-cap matches against the Barbarians (Nov. 4) and a French Selection in Lyon (Nov. 14).
Key players Kieran Read, Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Samuel Whitelock, Anton Lienert-Brown and Sonny Bill Williams, who all played in the 23-18 loss to Australia last Saturday, will be rested for the Barbarians match and join the squad late.
Retallick, who has missed the last two tests, will remain at home leaving the squad with only four locks, but experienced loose forward Jerome Kaino, who has not played since the Lions series for his own personal reasons, returned to the squad.
Of the uncapped quartet, 20-year-old Aumua was expected to be included after being thrust into the limelight in June when he scored three tries in the final of the under-20 World Cup, which the “Baby Blacks” won.
Goodhue has been on the fringes of the squad after being drafted in as injury cover during the British and Irish Lions series, while the versatile Duffie gets his chance with Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg and Nehe Milner-Skudder all out injured.
Regular fullback Ben Smith is also on sabbatical, while season-ending injuries to first choice props Joe Moody and Owen Franks have created the opportunity for loosehead Perry.
Hansen has retained Tawera Kerr-Barlow as his third-choice scrumhalf, despite the player’s decision to sign for French club La Rochelle, indicating he is not quite convinced of his options behind Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara.
Five additional players - loose forward Dillon Hunt, prop Atunaisa Moli, scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond, flyhalf Richie Mo‘unga and lock Dominic Bird - will play for the Barbarians and join the All Blacks squad for the two matches in France.
“We want to play attractive rugby that we can be proud of and, of course, winning is part of that,” said Hansen.
“But, just as importantly will be re-establishing the processes that allow us to do this.”
Forwards: Kane Hames, Wyatt Crockett, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tu‘ungafasi, Tim Perry, Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Asafo Aumua, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Patrick Tuipulotu, Liam Squire, Vaea Fifita, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Matt Todd, Kieran Read (captain)
Backs: Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Lima Sopoaga, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Jack Goodhue, Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane, Matt Duffie, Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili, Damian McKenzie.
Additional writing by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Ken Ferris