All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has said he doesn't want to give away too many secrets to the Irish, but Declan Kidney's men can probably start preparing to face Sonny Bill Williams in Saturday's first test in Auckland.

After naming his squad for the three-test series, Hansen hinted it was likely Ma'a Nonu and Tamati Ellison, who have both come into this Super Rugby season without a break following club duties in Japan, will be rested.

That will result in Williams, the form second-five in New Zealand, wearing the No12 jersey for the All Blacks at Eden Park. Highlander Ellison, recalled to the squad after playing his first and only test against Italy in 2009, is a midfield utility player and probably would have hoped for a place on the reserves bench at best.

Hansen said of a rest for Nonu, who has looked jaded in a poorly-performing Blues side after moving from the Hurricanes: "We'll just have to wait and see about that. We've got another guy [Williams] playing extremely well at the moment so that gives us some really good options to perhaps not have to play him if we don't need to. We'll make those decisions over the next few weeks."


The new All Blacks coach was more forthcoming about a possible rest strategy when asked to comment on Ellison, however.

"He's had a busy season as well, so just how we treat him, we'll have to see. We might look at doing similar stuff with Tarms and Ma'a and try to get them ready for the Investec [Rugby Championship] series."

Nonu said he was always keen to wear an All Blacks jersey but conceded Williams was the form player.

"There's someone else playing out of his skin and is probably in front," he said. "When it comes to this team you help each other, really. I believe in people being rewarded."

The 30-year-old, who has played 66 tests, has had precious little reward at the Blues this season. While he showed some good touches in the loss to the Chiefs at the weekend, it was his impact as a substitute in the second half against the Highlanders a week earlier which caught the eye.

He was on the field only minutes but easily took the mantle as the best player wearing blue. Nonu said being back in the All Blacks environment earlier that week had helped lift and invigorate him.

"When I left the All Black camp I wanted to be part of this team. It brings the best out of you. When you go through this camp you keep learning. I can't really say I'm tired. It's professional sport, I've just got to roll with it."

It is likely that Williams and Conrad Smith will be the midfield partnership for the first test, with Piri Weepu starting at halfback inside Dan Carter. The only real question mark hangs over the wings.

Specialist left wing Julian Savea could mark his call-up by playing there on debut, with the selectors having Zac Guildford and Hosea Gear, also left wings, to choose from on the right.

However, if Israel Dagg, the incumbent, is chosen at fullback, the selectors could look at Ben Smith as an option on the right.

A conservative approach for the forwards would see a front row consisting of Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore and Owen Franks, with Ali Williams getting the nod at lock alongside Sam Whitelock. The loose forwards would be Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Adam Thomson.

Hooker Keven Mealamu, tied on 92 caps with the record-setting Sean Fitzpatrick, is likely to be unavailable until the second test in Christchurch at best due to his calf injury. Hika Elliot will get the nod as cover for him on the bench.