Bledisloe Cup blow for five All Blacks
The All Blacks have named a 34-man squad - axeing five players - for the two upcoming Bledisloe Cup Tests against Australia.
Shannon Frizell, Dalton Papalii, Josh Ioane, Asafo Aumua and Karl Tu'inukuafe didn't make the cut with their prospects of heading to the Rugby World Cup later this year now looking doubtful.
New Zealand's preparations for the tournament in Japan will continue with two Tests against the Australians with the first in Perth on August 10 also doubling as a Rugby Championship match.
Centre Sonny Bill Williams was named in the squad, but will miss the Perth Test as he plays domestic rugby in a bid to overcome fitness issues.
The Wallabies have not won the Bledisloe Cup since 2002 and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen insists retaining the trophy is second only to defending the World Cup in the All Blacks' priorities for 2019.
"Bledisloe Cup Tests are always massive Tests," he said.
"We know that the Wallabies will be confident after their win over Argentina and desperate to win this first match, so we're looking forward to getting to Perth and getting into our Test preparation."
New Zealand squad: Forwards - Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Jackson Hemopo, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Luke Jacobson, Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd
Backs - TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Braydon Ennor, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith
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