Beauden Barrett makes All Blacks tour squad
Beauden Barrett is in and Wyatt Crockett is out.
With Dan Carter still recovering from his calf injury, coach Steve Hansen has elected to include Aaron Cruden and Barrett as his backup first five-eighths for the All Blacks' two-match tour of Argentina and South Africa. It means loosehead prop Crockett has been squeezed out of the 28-man squad which leaves for Argentina from Auckland tomorrow.
Barrett, who can also play fullback, will form the backbone of Hansen's insurance policy even though Carter, who has not played since the Bledisloe Cup win over Australia at Eden Park on August 25, is making steady progress in his rehabilitation.
The All Blacks coach has reason to be judicious; Argentina's spirited performance in their recent 21-5 loss to the All Blacks in Wellington has proved the return match in La Plata on September 30 could be a tricky mission.
Although Hansen also had the option of leaving one of his six loose forwards in New Zealand, he opted to jettison specialist loosehead Crockett for the last two Rugby Championship matches.
Since returning from the rib cartilage injury that ruled him out of the recent test against the Wallabies - which Crockett started - Tony Woodcock has owned the No 1 jersey. Charlie Faumuina and Ben Franks can cover both sides, while Owen Franks travels as the sole tighthead specialist.
Carter, who was with the All Blacks in Dunedin last weekend but not running at full pace, has been having regular chiropractor, pilates and weight sessions this week. Hansen will be keen to have his king playmaker available for the October 7 test against the Springboks in front of 94,000 fans in Soweto's FNB Stadium.
All Blacks squad to tour Argentina and South Africa: Forwards: Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Richie McCaw (c), Liam Messam, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, Victor Vito. Backs: Aaron Smith, Piri Weepu, Beauden Barrett, Daniel Carter, Aaron Cruden, Tamati Ellison, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Israel Dagg, Hosea Gear, Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Julian Savea.