The writing has been on the wall for some time.
Steve Hansen has named his 33-man squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship, the first game of which is against the Wallabies in Sydney – the opening Bledisloe Cup encounter on August 19.
Hansen is looking to build on the good work from the British and Irish Lions series:
“There were some clear things learnt in the Lions series and this is a great chance for us to implement those; to continue to grow our skill execution and the mental side of our game, and develop our leadership and the leadership group,” Hansen told The NZ Herald.
However, they will do this without Julian Savea. ‘The Bus’ has been left out of the 33-man squad and Hansen says the player is understandably disappointed to be left out.
“We commiserate with those who have missed out, particularly Julian Savea and the unlucky Matt Todd, both of whom have made great contributions to the All Blacks jersey and will do so again in the future, I’m sure.”
Savea, who turned 27 today, has been uncharacteristically out of form this season and he was benched for the Hurricanes’ Super Rugby semi-final loss to the Lions last week. Nehe Milner-Skudder has come back into the squad in his place after the star of the 2015 World Cup had successfully overcome his injury problems.
As Hansen said, Matt Todd has also been left out of the squad, even though the openside was excellent against the Lions in Johannesburg at the weekend.
The All Blacks face off against the Wallabies in Sydney on August 19 before taking them on again in Dunedin a week later.
Dane Coles (Wellington/Hurricanes, 49)
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs, 8)
Codie Taylor (Canterbury/Crusaders, 19)
Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury/Crusaders, 62)
Owen Franks (Canterbury/Crusaders, 94)
Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau/Chiefs, 4)
Joe Moody (Canterbury/Crusaders, 28)
Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Auckland/Blues, 4)
Scott Barrett (Taranaki/Crusaders, 8)
Brodie Retallick (Hawke’s Bay/Chiefs, 64)
Luke Romano (Canterbury/Crusaders, 26)
Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury/Crusaders, 88)
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs, 44)
Vaea Fifita (Wellington/Hurricanes, 1)
Jerome Kaino (Auckland/Blues, 74)
Kieran Read, captain (Counties Manukau/ Crusaders, 100)
Ardie Savea (Wellington/Hurricanes, 16)
Liam Squire (Tasman/Highlanders, 8)
Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Waikato/Chiefs, 25)
TJ Perenara (Wellington/Hurricanes, 33)
Aaron Smith (Manawatu/Highlanders, 62)
Beauden Barrett (Taranaki/Hurricanes, 53)
Lima Sopoaga (Southland/Highlanders, 7)
Ryan Crotty (Canterbury/Crusaders, 27)
Ngani Laumape (Manawatu/Hurricanes, 2)
Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato/Chiefs, 13)
Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau/Blues, 36)
Jordie Barrett (Taranaki/Hurricanes, 2)
Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay/Crusaders, 65)
Rieko Ioane (Auckland/Blues, 4)
Nehe Milner-Skudder (Manawatu/Hurricanes, 8)
Waisake Naholo (Taranaki/Highlanders, 13)
Ben Smith (Otago/Highlanders, 62)
Utility back / Replacement
Damian McKenzie (Waikato/Chiefs, 2)