Rugby: Hansen continues youthful thinking in All Blacks squad

Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa has been named in the All Blacks training group after a strong Super Rugby season. Photo / Getty Images
Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa has been named in the All Blacks training group after a strong Super Rugby season. Photo / Getty Images

Steve Hansen has continued to promote youth within his squad after naming five uncapped players in a 35-strong training group today to prepare for next month's three-test home series against England.

Hookers Nathan Harris and Liam Coltman have been summoned, alongside Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu, Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara and exciting Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa.

Elsewhere, Hurricanes flanker Victor Vito has been recalled to the national set-up, while Blues blindside Jerome Kaino has also been picked after returning to New Zealand this year following a stint in Japan.

The training camps will be held in Christchurch from Sunday to next Tuesday and in Wellington from Sunday, May 25 to Tuesday, May 27.

Crusaders flanker Luke Whitelock will attend the Christchurch camp only and Hurricanes lock Jeremy Thrush will be on deck for the Wellington camp.

Hansen said the two camps would once again form a massive part of the team's preparations for the series against England.

"With players coming from five different Super Rugby teams, it's important that we get aligned on our gameplans and skill sets. The challenge the English bring means we will need to be at our very best as quickly as possible,'' Hansen said.

"The camps also give the All Blacks' management time to meet and learn in greater details about some of the younger players who have been named. The All Blacks' management would like to thank the Super Rugby coaches and teams for their support in agreeing to these camps.''

Hansen said the number of players attending the camps was limited to 35 so, as usual, there were several players whom the All Blacks' management already knew about who would not be attending the camps.

The 31-man squad for the test series against England will be named on Sunday, June 1.

All Blacks' training squad:

Hookers: Keven Mealamu (Blues), Nathan Harris (Chiefs), Dane Coles (Hurricanes) and Liam Coltman (Highlanders).

Props: Charlie Faumuina and Tony Woodcock (Blues), Ben Franks (Hurricanes) and Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks (Crusaders).

Locks: Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes) and Dominic Bird and Sam Whitelock (Crusaders).

Loose forwards: Jerome Kaino and Steven Luatua (Blues), Sam Cane and Liam Messam (Chiefs), Victor Vito (Hurricanes) and Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Luke Whitelock (Crusaders).

Halfbacks: Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs), TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) and Aaron Smith (Highlanders).

First five-eighths: Aaron Cruden (Chiefs), Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes) and Colin Slade (Crusaders).

Midfielders: Ma'a Nonu (Blues), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes), Ryan Crotty (Crusaders) and Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders).

Outside backs: Cory Jane and Julian Savea (Hurricanes), Israel Dagg (Crusaders) and Ben Smith (Highlanders).

- APNZ

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