All Blacks make massive selection cut in Bledisloe Cup squad

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    All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has run out of patience with prolific winger Julian Savea, dropping him from the squad for the Rugby Championship.

    The powerful back’s name is the most notable one missing from the 33-man group unveiled on Monday for the championship which begins with next week’s Test against Australia in Sydney.

    There are recalls for Hurricanes outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder and prop Nepo Laulala, who both last played for New Zealand in 2015 before being struck down with serious injuries.

    Hooker Dane Coles returns after missing the Lions series with concussion symptoms.

    Hansen has otherwise resisted the urge to make changes from the squad which contested the drawn series against the British and Irish Lions.

    Uncapped Chiefs prop Atu Moli, 22, is named as an “apprentice player”. The former New Zealand under-20 captain isn’t part of the official squad but will assemble and train with them.

    Not considered were centre Malakai Fekitoa, first five-eighth Aaron Cruden and prop Charlie Faumuina after signing offshore contracts.

    Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow will also leave for France later in the year but has been retained as the likely third-choice No.9.

    Hansen singled out Julian Savea and flanker Matt Todd as unlucky to be cut.

    Savea, the scorer of 46 tries from 54 Tests, has struggled this year, facing the Lions in the third Test only.

    He also lacked zip with the Hurricanes and was named on the bench for their Super Rugby semi-final loss to the Lions.

    Fullback Ben Smith will play the first two Tests before taking a sabbatical for the remainder of the year.

    Versatile back Damian McKenzie is included, boasting an ability to cover fullback and first five-eighth, where Beauden Barrett and Lima Sopoaga are the only two candidates.

    Hansen indicated there would be “new strategies” to handle the travelling component of the championship, indicating some senior players will be rested from the Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires on September 30.

    “We’ve learnt since the introduction of Argentina that there is a massive travelling component to the championship, which comes at a cost at the end of the year,” he said.

    “So we’ll be looking to implement some new strategies to try and overcome that.”

    New Zealand squad
    Backs: Ben Smith, Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane, Ryan Crotty, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Ngani Laumape, Beauden Barrett, Lima Sopoaga, Damian McKenzie, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow

    Forwards: Kieran Read (capt), Liam Squire, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Vaea Fifita, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Wyatt Crockett, Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris.

    © AAP 2017

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