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18 Feb 2018 23:14
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby

    Mo'unga called into All Blacks squad

    Crusaders and Canterbury first-five Richie Mo'unga has been called into the All Blacks' squad for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Brisbane.

    Richie Mo'unga could be in line for a shock All Blacks debut after being called into the side for this weekend's third Bledisloe Cup Test.

    The 23-year-old playmaker has enjoyed a prolific year at the franchise and provincial levels, guiding his Crusaders side to the Super Rugby title and Canterbury to this weekend's Premiership semi-finals.

    He's been called into the squad as cover for star first-five Beauden Barrett, who was concussed in last week's 25-24 win over South Africa.

    Should Barrett be cleared of concussion, however, Mo'unga would be unlikely to make the matchday XXIII ahead of Lima Sopoaga.

    Elsewhere, lock Brodie Retallick will not travel to Australia, having missed the side's last-up Test in Cape Town due to personal reasons.

    New father Luke Romano will also skip the Test, leaving a spot open for strapping Blues lock and Auckland captain Patrick Tuipulotu.

    The All Blacks have already wrapped up their 15th straight Bledisloe Cup triumph, winning 54-34 in Sydney and 35-29 in Dunedin in August.

    Yet given the nature of their last-gasp second-Test victory, coach Steve Hansen is expected to play a full-strength squad in Brisbane.

    That would mean starts for the likes of Dane Coles, Kieran Read and Aaron Smith, who have already endured a hectic 2017 schedule.

    Highlanders flyer Waisake Naholo is all but certain to play on the right wing in place of Nehe Milner-Skudder, who dislocated his shoulder in South Africa, while Rieko Ioane and Damian McKenzie will round off the back three.

    Openside flanker Sam Cane is also likely to start, having just signed a contract extension with New Zealand Rugby through to 2021.

    Hansen's squad leaves for Brisbane on Monday.

    ALL BLACKS: Wyatt Crockett, Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Dane Coles, Nathan Harris, Codie Taylor, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read (c), Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Matt Todd, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Lima Sopoaga, Ryan Crotty, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Waisake Naholo, David Havili, Damian McKenzie.


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