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All Blacks call up 31 players for Steinlager Series

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New Zealand are set for the upcoming set of test matches against England that will be part of the Steinlager Series that will take place in Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton starting next week.

Steve Hansen called up 31 players that will be made available for these intense matches against the 2003 Rugby World Cup winners. Hansen was pleased with the form of the players that have taken part in this callup based on their performances in Super Rugby.

The noticeable absence is that of five-eighths Dan Carter, who has been on sabbatical from injury for an extended period of time now.

The squad is extremely experienced having more than 1,125 caps combined between all players. The only two that would be making their maiden voyage with the All Blacks- Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu and Highlanders back Malakai Fekitoa.

Fekitoa was a product of Wesley College, which also produced All Blacks Jonah Lomu and Frank Halai, Fekitoa is also a talented sevens player and was Player of the Tournament at the 2011 National Sevens. Meanwhile Tuiplotu began in the much heralded Ponsonby club in Auckland and the first of the 2013 New Zealand Under 20 side to be named as a full member of the All Blacks squad.

“In selecting our squad, once again we have tried to balance experience and youth with form in Super Rugby and proven performances in the All Black jersey,” said Hansen.

In this matchup New Zealand expect to begin seeing some competition for positions as they prepare for the Rugby Championship as well as start looking at the 2015 Rugby World Cup as well. Hansen believes that these matches will offer the chance to improve their game thinking about the long-term.

“This will add to the pressure on both sides in the upcoming series,” added Hansen when talking about the importance of these matches against England.

Hookers

Dane Coles (Wellington / Hurricanes, 15)
Keven Mealamu (Auckland / Blues, 110)

Props
Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury / Crusaders, 24)
Charlie Faumuina (Auckland / Blues 17)
Ben Franks (Hawke’s Bay / Hurricanes, 31)
Owen Franks (Canterbury, Crusaders, 54)
Tony Woodcock (North Harbour/ Blues, 107)

Locks
Dominic Bird (Canterbury / Crusaders, 1)
Brodie Retallick (Bay of Plenty, Chiefs, 24)
Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland / Blues)
Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury/ Crusaders, 51)

Loose Forwards
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty, Chiefs, 14)
Jerome Kaino (Auckland / Blues, 48)
Richie McCaw (c) (Canterbury / Crusaders, 124)
Liam Messam (Waikato / Chiefs, 29)
Kieran Read (Canterbury, Crusaders, 61)
Victor Vito (Wellington / Hurricanes, 22)

Backs

Halfbacks
Tawera Kerr–Barlow (Waikato / Chiefs, 14)
TJ Perenara (Wellington / Hurricanes)
Aaron Smith (Manawatu / Highlanders, 26)

First five–eighths
Beauden Barrett (Taranaki / Hurricanes, 16)
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu / Chiefs, 29)
Colin Slade (Canterbury / Crusaders (11)

Midfielders
Ryan Crotty (Canterbury / Crusaders, 5)
Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland / Highlanders)
Ma’a Nonu (Wellington / Blues, 88)
Conrad Smith (Wellington / Hurricanes, 75)

Outside backs
Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay / Crusaders, 38)
Cory Jane (Wellington / Hurricanes, 45)
Julian Savea (Wellington / Hurricanes, 20)
Ben Smith (Otago / Highlanders, 26)

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