Former All Blacks add flavour to the Barbarians
England are using a heavy core of recent All Blacks for their June warm-up match before heading south for three tests against New Zealand.
The British Barbarians have included seven former All Blacks in the 14 names released so far for the June 1 match against England at Twickenham.
Hosea Gear, John Afoa, Jimmy Cowan, Ali Williams, Carl Hayman, Rene Ranger and Sitiveni Sivivatu are in the squad. More players will be added to this week.
Former Wallabies James O'Connor, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell are also in the mix, ensuring a real southern flavour to the Baabaas.
England, buoyed by their improving form in the just-completed Six Nations where they were edged by Ireland on points differential for the title, have targeted their tour of New Zealand as a crucial part of their build-up for next year's World Cup which they host.
The Barbarians match comes a day after the English club final, ruling out some English players from being involved, and coach Stuart Lancaster has already suggested those players were also likely to miss the opening test against the All Blacks at Eden Park on June 7.
England also play tests the following weekends in Dunedin and Hamilton and have a midweek match against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Barbarians squad: James O'Connor (London Irish, Australia), Drew Mitchell (Toulon, Australia), Hosea Gear (Toulouse, New Zealand), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Clermont, New Zealand), Aurelien Rougerie (Clermont, France), Rene Ranger (Montpelier, New Zealand), Matt Giteau (Toulon, Australia), Francois Trinh Duc (Montpelier, France), Jimmy Cowan (Gloucester, New Zealand), Steffon Armitage (Toulon, England), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont, France), Ali Williams (Toulon, New Zealand), Carl Hayman (Toulon, New Zealand), John Afoa (Ulster, New Zealand).