Seven new caps in All Blacks squad to face Ireland

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has drafted in seven new caps for the forthcoming Steinlager Series of three Test matches against Ireland.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has drafted in seven new caps for the forthcoming Steinlager Series of three Test matches against Ireland.

Squad mainstays Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith and Dan Carter have been joined by a host of new faces and three fresh additions from a Chiefs team that are currently leading the Super Rugby league.

Prop Ben Tameifuna, lock Brodie Retallick and flanker Sam Cane are the uncapped Chiefs named in the 30-man squad.

Crusaders lock Luke Romano, Highlanders half-back Aaron Smith, and Hurricanes pair Beauden Barrett and Julian Savea are the other new names.

Richie McCaw will captain the side for the series against the Irish, which begins at Eden Park on Saturday, June 9.

Hansen will have to do without the services of World Cup winners Cory Jane, Jerome Kaino, Isaia Tovea and Richard Kahui, who are all carrying injuries, for the series.

However, Hansen believes the uncapped players have brought much-needed enthusiasm and energy to the pre-series training camps.

He said: "We've been sitting on our hands for six months (since the World Cup win), waiting, waiting, waiting. It is great to get back on the track.

"We believe we have selected a squad that is experienced and passionate and added to that by bringing in players with raw potential and determination to succeed as All Blacks."

Hansen was flanked by selectors Grant Fox and Ian Foster for the squad announcement in Auckland. He explained the management team has three aims for the upcoming series.

He said: "We want to prepare well for each Test. Clearly, we want to win the series. We also want to introduce young All Blacks to Test rugby.

"We know that what we did yesterday is not good enough for today and we have a clear goal to recapture the World Cup in 2015."

The exclusion of note from the squad was Andy Ellis. The Crusaders out-half misses out after Hansen and his selectors opted for Aaron Smith and Piri Weepu, who Hansen described as the "incumbent" in the number nine jersey.

"Last year we believed in and trusted Piri Weepu and this year is no different," said Fox. "He has got a natural feel for the game and you can't coach that."

Hansen concedes that there are always "huge external expectations" for the All Blacks but he is confident his players will rise to the challenge sure to be posed by Ireland.

"We wouldn't want it any other way," he said, "because what this does is raise our own internal expectations to an even higher level. We want to win Test matches, and we want to do it by performing well."

Hansen added: "We are expecting a robust challenge from the Irish. We all saw what they could do at the World Cup last year when they beat Australia at Eden Park. That was one of the best games in the entire tournament.

"I think they had most of New Zealand supporting them after that win."

Hansen acknowledged Ireland would miss the talents of injured players such as lock Paul O'Connell and flanker Stephen Ferris but he noted the strong Heineken Cup runs of Ulster and Leinster, who won the competition in May.

The coach singled out Cane and Barrett, two of the new All Blacks, for praise and declared he would be happy to go into any of the upcoming matches with all of the uncapped players in the starting line-up.

He said: "Beauden is a talented young man and one for the future. He can cover 10, 12 or 15 across the backline. We would have no problem playing him at out-half."

"Cane is an exciting young prospect," Hansen declared. "He reminds me of a young Richie McCaw."

The All Blacks side to play in the first Test will be named on Thursday.

New Zealand squad: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Sam Cane (Chiefs), Daniel Carter (Crusaders), Wyatt Crockett (Cusaders), Aaron Cruden (Chiefs), Israel Dagg (Crusaders), Tamati Ellison (Highlanders), Ben Franks (Crusaders), Owen Franks (Crusaders), Hosea Gear (Highlanders), Zac Guildford (Crusaders), Andrew Hore (Highlanders), Richie McCaw (c) (Crusaders), Keven Mealamu (Blues), Ma'a Nonu (Blues), Kieran Read (Crusaders), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Luke Romano (Crusaders), Julian Savea (Hurricanes), Aaron Smith (Highlanders), Ben Smith (Highlanders), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes), Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs), Adam Thomson (Highlanders), Victor Vito (Hurricanes), Piri Weepu (Blues), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders), Ali Williams (Blues), Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs), Tony Woodcock (Blues).

Injury cover - Hika Elliott (Chiefs).

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