Barrett named in All Blacks squad
Young Taranaki star Beauden Barrett has been named in the All Blacks' 35-man wider training group revealed by Steve Hansen today.
The amber-and-blacks first five-eighth, who has impressed with his play for the Hurricanes in the Super 15, joins fellow Taranaki representative Andrew Hore in the squad, which will be trimmed to 30 for the June tests against Ireland.
Meanwhile, Crusaders Luke Whitelock and Luke Romano were among the surprise selections in Hansen's wider training group.
One of the major omissions is Crusaders wing Zac Guildford who, despite being one of the form wings in New Zealand, has been overlooked along with hooker Corey Flynn.
Hansen will reveal the reasons for his selections later today.
Guildford's omission, which could be related to his alcohol- fuelled indiscretions in Rarotonga after the World Cup, means his chances of being selected for next month's three-test series against Ireland may be bleak.
The squad will train in camps in Auckland and Wellington later this month, and will be whittled back to 30 on June 3 ahead of the opening Irish test on June 9 at Eden Park.
The naming of loose forward Whitelock and lock Romano does not guarantee the pair will earn their first caps against Ireland but they now know a path to higher honours has been unblocked if they can impress the new All Blacks boss. The selection of Whitelock, especially, falls in the "bolter" category.
Although he has been a regular fixture on the Crusaders bench this season, he has started only twice at No 8 and blindside flanker.
The squad includes 21 members of last year's World Cup squad and six players from last year's NZ under-20 side who won the world title.
This includes Whitelock who captained the side and is in his first season of Super Rugby.
"With the selection of the players for the camps, our main aim is to begin to prepare a squad to win the series against Ireland; and secondly, it gives us the opportunity to introduce and work with some younger, talented players in the All Blacks environment," Hansen stated.
He has also unveiled a number of other bold selections and has given an indication he is already looking to build for the future.
Exciting Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith earned a call-up ahead of Hurricanes No 9 T J Perenara. However, there was better news for Perenara's team- mates - Barrett, Julian Savea and Brad Shields - who have all been included.
The selection of loose forward Shields, who impressed for Wellington last year, is a surprise but Barrett and Savea have thrived following regular starts this season.
The Chiefs also provided a host of newcomers, including monster 134kg prop Ben Tameifuna, halfback Tawera Kerr- Barlow and openside flanker Sam Cane. Utility back Richard Kahui was selected despite dislocating a shoulder in the Chiefs' loss to the Reds last night, as was Blues prop Charlie Faumuina who pulled a calf muscle against the Lions on Friday night..
SQUAD Blues: Charlie Faumuina, Ma'a Nonu, Keven Mealamu, Piri Weepu, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock. Chiefs: Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden, Richard Kahui, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brodie Retallick, Ben Tameifuna, Sonny Bill Williams. Crusaders: Dan Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Luke Whitelock, Samuel Whitelock. Highlanders: Tamati Ellison, Andrew Hore, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Adam Thomson. Hurricanes: Beauden Barrett, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Brad Shields, Conrad Smith, Victor Vito.
Taranaki Daily News