18 Jul 2015

All Blacks take 31 to South Africa

3:01 pm on 18 July 2015

The All Blacks stars Aaron, Ben and Conrad Smith have been named in a 31 strong squad to fly to South Africa for next weekend's Rugby Championship Test in Johannesburg.

All Blacks Ben Smith and Conrad Smith

All Blacks Ben Smith and Conrad Smith Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The trio did not feature in Friday's 39-18 win over Argentina in Christchurch or the All Blacks' Test win in Samoa.

The uncapped players Lima Sopoaga and James Broadhurst will also board the plane that notably won't be carrying the veterans Daniel Carter, Sonny Bill Williams or Sam Cane.

The All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says the team was selected on three criteria.

"Firstly, we have picked experienced players who are well aware of the challenge of playing South Africa at home.

"Secondly, we want to give some other players the opportunity to see how they cope under the extreme pressure of playing South Africa; and thirdly, we took into consideration the fact that some players in the squad could do with having a break for various reasons, so they will be staying home to freshen up," said Hansen.

The Hurricanes Dane Coles, Beauden Barrett, Victor Vito and Julian Savea are also in the 31 after being rested for the Tests against Samoa and Argentina

All Black Victor Vito in action.

All Black Victor Vito in action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Hansen says Carter, Williams and Cane are being rested.

"In the case of DC (Daniel Carter) and Sonny, both have come off really good games.

"Normally, if we had a squad of 31 both of them would be in it, but Sonny's got a busy schedule, so we've let him have some time at home, and DC can have some time at home with his family as well," said Hansen.

"What we're looking to do with Sammy is give him this week off and maybe give him 40 minutes for his (provincial) side and then bring him back into the group for Australia."

While Waisake Naholo has been ruled out of the World Cup after suffering a fractured fibia on debut against Argentina, Hansen says there are only two other injury concerns in the extended squad of 41 to hooker Hika Elliot and winger Nehe Milner-Skudder.

"Hika's got a bit of a sore tricep and Nehe Milner Skudder's has sore ribs. If we had to we could have played them."

Hansen was careful to remind reporters the squad of 31 for the South African match is not a shadow World Cup selection.

Steve Hansen on duty at Apia Park

Steve Hansen on duty at Apia Park Photo: Photosport

"No-one has jumped ahead of anyone. We're just trying to find the best 31. We've gotta get combinations, we've got to get versatility. With a squad of 41 if we do have to bring people in (to the World Cup) then we've had guys who've had a taste of it, understand what it's like and can fit in pretty easily."

"We've gotta be brave to find out some answers to some questions and what better place to find out some questions about people.

"It's a heck of a pressure situation against one of the best teams in the world, in their backyard on the highveld. We'll get some good answers to some serious questions," Hansen said.

When asked if other players may be released to play for their provincial unions in the gap between the second Bledisloe Cup Test on August the 15th and the start of the World Cup on September the 21st, Hansen singled out Cory Jane.

"That (the gap) won't be too bad for some people. It'll allow us to get some hard work into some of them.

"But others who haven't played a lot, I'm thinking of Corey Jane here, he's someone we'd like to see playing cause he hasn't played hardly any rugby. And there'll be others," said Hansen.

The squad flies out to South Africa on Saturday, stopping over in Sydney before arriving in Johannesburg on Sunday evening.

The All Blacks play South Africa at Ellis Park on Saturday July the 25th.

The travelling squad is as follows:

Hookers: Dane Coles, Keven Mealamu and Codie Taylor

Props: Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala and Tony Woodcock

Locks: James Broadhurst, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano and Samuel Whitelock

Loose forwards: Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Liam Messam, Kieran Read and Victor Vito

Halfbacks: Andy Ellis, TJ Perenara and Aaron Smith

First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett, Colin Slade and Lima Sopoaga

Midfielders: Ryan Crotty, Malakai Fekitoa, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith

Outside backs: Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea and Ben Smith

All players who are remaining in New Zealand will be given individual training programmes to work on and will reassemble with the rest of squad in August and be available for selection for the Bledisloe Cup Tests.

The first Bledisloe is played in Sydney on August the 8th.