All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has included two uncapped players but made no selection surprises in his squad for this season’s Rugby Championship.
Crusaders prop Tim Perry, who played two non-test matches on New Zealand’s tour to the northern hemisphere last year, and Chiefs scrumhalf Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi are the only uncapped members of the squad announced yesterday.
Captain Kieran Read, hooker Dane Coles, and lock Brodie Retallick all return after missing the All Blacks’ June test series against France because of injuries.
Hurricanes centre Ngani Laumape has also been included as injury cover for Sonny Bill Williams, who is recovering from a shoulder injury and will miss New Zealand’s first two tests against Australia at Sydney on August 18 and at Auckland on August 25.
Fly-half Damian Willemse is one of three uncapped players in South Africa’s squad for the Rugby Championship. The 20-year-old Willemse was joined by uncapped flankers Cyle Brink and Marco van Staden in a squad of 35 announced by coach Rassie Erasmus.
Erasmus also recalled hooker Malcolm Marx, No. 8 Warren Whiteley, scrum-half Ross Cronje and centre Lionel Mapoe, all members of the Lions team that reached Saturday’s Super Rugby final. They didn’t play any part in South Africa’s series win over England in June, Erasmus’ first assignment in charge.
Erasmus decided that flanker Siya Kolisi will keep the Springboks captaincy despite the return from injury of Whiteley, the regular skipper last season.
Experienced lock Eben Etzebeth also returned from injury to take his place in the squad. Etzebeth hasn’t played this year.
Meanwhile Chris Ashton has revealed that homesickness, as well as the determination to relaunch his England career, underpinned his decision to swap Toulon for Sale.
Ashton’s stunning form in his debut season in the French Top 14 that saw him set a new try-scoring record of 24 rekindled his international ambitions with the 2019 World Cup looming.
Being named in Eddie Jones’ pre-season training squad that gathered in London over the weekend edged him closer to his goal, although it was only when added to the squad’s WhatsApp group that he knew of his selection.
Also influencing the request to end his Toulon deal with two years still to serve, however, was the desire to return to the north west of England with his wife Melissa and daughter Ava.
“Playing in France was exactly what I thought it was going to be – a different culture and environment. I’m a better person and player for experiencing it,” the former Northampton and Saracens wing said.
D Coles, C Taylor, N Harris, O Franks, J Moody, T Perry, K Tu’inukuafe, O Tu’ungafasi, S Barrett, B Retallick, S Whitelock, S Cane, J Hemopo, S Frizell, K Read (capt), A Savea, L Squire, L Whitelock.
TJ Perenara, A Smith, T Toiroa Tahuriorangi, B Barrett, D McKenzie, R Mo’unga, R Crotty, J Goodhue, S B Williams, A Lienert-Brown, J Barrett, R Ioane, N Milner-Skudder, W Naholo, B Smith.
C Brink, J-Luc du Preez, T du Toit, P Steph du Toit, E Etzebeth, S Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (capt), F Louw, W Louw, F Malherbe, M Marx, B Mbonambi, F Mostert, T Mtawarira, S Notshe, M Orie, R Snyman, A van der Merwe, M van Staden, W Whiteley.
L Am, R Cronjé, F de Klerk, A Dyantyi, A Esterhuizen, E Janjies, J Kriel, W le Roux, M Mapimpi, L Mapoe, L Mvovo, E Papier, H Pollard, I van Zyl, D Willemse.