Five new caps named in All Blacks' Rugby Championship squad

Five new caps named in All Blacks' Rugby Championship squad

All Blacks selectors Ian Foster, Jason Ryan and Joe Schmidt have announced a squad of 36 players for the upcoming Rugby Championship.

All Blacks selectors Ian Foster, Jason Ryan and Joe Schmidt have announced a squad of 36 players for the upcoming Rugby Championship.

In naming his first squad of the year, All Blacks coach Ian Foster highlighted that the upcoming Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship is vital preparation for the Rugby World Cup later this year.

"We are very excited about the group we have selected," Foster said.

"The Rugby Championship is a vital piece in our preparation for the World Cup later in the year. It's a key opportunity to get our game ready so we can enter the global tournament with confidence."

Foster has also announced that Sam Cane will return as captain of the All Blacks.

"Sam has proven himself as a great leader of our team despite having had a disrupted couple of seasons leading into this one," said Foster.

"We have total belief that he is the right man to lead us."

The selectors also congratulated the five uncapped players - Cam Roigard, Dallas McLeod, Emoni Narawa, Samipeni Finau and Tamaiti Williams - who have impressed in DHL Super Rugby Pacific.

"This is very special day for them and their families who I'm sure will be extremely proud of their achievements," Foster said.

"We have a new group of exciting players who will be keen to make a difference in the All Black jersey."

A number of other capped All Blacks and emerging players will be given the opportunity to gain valuable experience on tour with the All Blacks XV. The squad will play two matches in Japan next month, boosting the depth in New Zealand's talent pool as the Rugby World Cup approaches.

The All Blacks will begin their preparations with a training camp at Mount Maunganui from June 21-23 for the non DHL Super Rugby Pacific finalists. The full squad will assemble in Auckland on June 27, before travelling to Mendoza for the opening Test of the year against Argentina on Saturday July 8th.

Hookers:Codie Taylor (32, Crusaders / Canterbury, 76)Dane Coles (36, Hurricanes / Wellington, 84)Samisoni Taukei™aho (25, Chiefs / Waikato, 24)

Props:Ethan de Groot (24, Highlanders / Southland, 13)Fletcher Newell (23, Crusaders / Canterbury, 6)Nepo Laulala (31, Blues / Counties Manukau, 45)Ofa Tu'ungafasi (31, Blues / Northland, 50)Tamaiti Williams (22, Crusaders / Canterbury, *)Tyrel Lomax (27, Hurricanes / Tasman, 23)

Locks:Brodie Retallick (32, Chiefs / Hawkes Bay, 100)Josh Lord (22, Chiefs / Taranaki, 2)Samuel Whitelock (34, Crusaders / Canterbury, 143)Scott Barrett (29, Crusaders / Taranaki, 58)Tupou Vaa'i (23, Chiefs / Taranaki, 18)

Loose forwards:Ardie Savea (29, Hurricanes / Wellington, 70)Dalton Papali'i (25, Blues / Counties Manukau, 22)Luke Jacobson (26, Chiefs / Waikato, 12)Sam Cane (captain) (31, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty, 86)Samipeni Finau (24, Chiefs / Waikato, *)Shannon Frizell (29, Highlanders / Tasman, 25)

Halfbacks:Aaron Smith (34, Highlanders / Manawatu, 114)Finlay Christie (27, Blues / Tasman, 14)Cam Roigard (22, Hurricanes / Counties Manukau, *)

First-five eighths:Beauden Barrett (32, Blues / Taranaki, 112)Damian McKenzie (28, Chiefs / Waikato, 40)Richie Mo'unga (29, Crusaders / Canterbury, 44)

Midfielders:Anton Lienert-Brown (28, Chiefs / Waikato, 60)Jordie Barrett (26, Hurricanes / Taranaki, 48)Rieko Ioane (26, Blues / Auckland, 59)Braydon Ennor (25, Crusaders / Canterbury, 6)Dallas McLeod (24, Crusaders / Canterbury, *)

Outside backs:Caleb Clarke (24, Blues / Auckland, 15)Emoni Narawa (23, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty, *)Leicester Fainga'anuku (23, Crusaders / Tasman, 2)Mark Telea (26, Blues / North Harbour, 2)Will Jordan (25, Crusaders / Tasman, 21)

Note: Shaun Stevenson (26, Chiefs / North Harbour, *) has been added as injury cover for Mark Telea for the start of the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship.

Unavailable due to injury: Angus Ta'avao, Ethan Blackadder, Cullen Grace, David Havili, Joe Moody, George Bower, Patrick Tuipulotu, Quinn Tupaea, Sevu Reece, TJ Perenara.