Ma’a Nonu’s bid for a Rugby World Cup return appears to be over after the veteran centre was not selected in an extended All Blacks squad.
Coach Steve Hansen has unveiled 41 players to attend a “foundation day” in Wellington next week in the first significant step towards winning the Webb Ellis Cup for a third-straight time.
There are few notable omissions aside from Nonu, whose last Test was the triumphant 2015 World Cup final.
The 36-year-old played for French club Toulon before returning to Super Rugby with the Blues, where his performances had been solid until last week’s virtuoso performance against the NSW Waratahs.
However, it hasn’t been enough to convince Hansen, who has gone largely with the players who have performed for him over the past two seasons.
The only uncapped player is in-form Blues No.8 Akira Ioane, who played a mid-week match for the All Blacks in 2017.
Outside back George Bridge and former Melbourne Rebels prop Tyrel Lomax have earned one Test cap each, off the bench against Japan last year when a virtual second XV played.
Hansen has included a number of injured players, including flankers Sam Cane and Liam Squire, who are yet to play this year.
Others currently sidelined with significant injuries are winger Waisake Naholo, inside centre Sonny Bill Williams and halfback Aaron Smith.
A number of in-form players from the first half of the Super Rugby season have been bypassed.
They include David Havili, Braydon Ennor, Will Jordan and Jordan Taufua from the competition-leading Crusaders and Blues flankers Tom Robinson and Dalton Papali’i.
All Blacks training squad
Backs: Ben Smith, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Ngani Laumape, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Damian McKenzie, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi. Forwards: Kieran Read, Akira Ioane, Luke Whitelock, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Matt Todd, Liam Squire. Shannon Frizell, Vaea Fifita, Jackson Hemopo, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Joe Moody, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Angus Ta’avao, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Liam Coltman.