Just three All Blacks to play in Tens

Blues no.8 Steven Luatua embraces Highlanders 1st5 Lima Sopoaga after the opening match of Super Rugby season in 2016. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Blues no.8 Steven Luatua embraces Highlanders 1st5 Lima Sopoaga after the opening match of Super Rugby season in 2016. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

Only three All Blacks who were on the end-of-year tour to the Northern Hemisphere will be released to play in the Brisbane Global 10s rugby tournament next month.

They will not include two-time World Cup winner Jerome Kaino,
experienced outside utility back Israel Dagg or up and coming Damian McKenzie.

New Zealand Rugby has been mute since the Herald revealed All Blacks stars will be at a premium in terms of involvement in the inaugural tournament on February 11 and 12.

There was no further comment yesterday, but the Weekend Herald understands the union is intending to give the all-clear for Blues loose forward Steven Luatua, Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman, Hurricanes lock Vaea Fifita and Crusader Seta Tamanivalu.

All toured with the All Blacks in November last year but had limited game time with Fifita not even getting on the field.

Jordie Barrett, younger brother of Beauden and the "apprentice" on the northern tour with the All Blacks, has also been released to play in the tournament.

Nehe Milner-Skudder will make his return to rugby alongside Fifita and Jordie Barrett.

Lock Luke Romano, absent along with the injured Milner-Skudder from the northern tour, is also set to play for the Crusaders.

Those players who toured with the All Blacks have been subject to a 12-week stand-down from all rugby which cast their involvement in the Brisbane event into serious doubt.

Kaino, Dagg and McKenzie have been used extensively in promotions by the tournament organisers, Duco Events, but now will not play.

It's understood the trio may travel to Brisbane as tournament "ambassadors" but won't play.

- NZ Herald

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