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Steve Hansen names his All Blacks squad for November Tests

Kieran Read captains the 36-man squad.

Aaron Smith is back for the world champions.
Aaron Smith is back for the world champions.

SCRUM-HALF AARON Smith is set to make his All Blacks return when New Zealand face Ireland in back-to-back Test matches next month.

Smith has missed New Zealand’s past two matches after he voluntarily stood down from Saturday’s controversial 37-10 Bledisloe Cup win over Australia having been being seen entering an airport toilet cubicle with a female last month.

The 27-year-old, however, is back in the 36-man squad – captained by Keiran Read – ahead of Tests against Ireland, Italy and France, commencing on 5 November in Chicago.

New Zealand’s roster also features the inclusion of 19-year-old outside Rieko Ioane and the return of Steven Luatua, while hooker Liam Coltman has been included in an official squad for the first time.

Lock Sam Whitelock, though, will miss the tour after being ruled out for a minimum of three weeks due an ankle sprain suffered in the record-breaking win over the Wallabies at Eden Park, with Scott Barett called in as an injury replacement.

“We stated at the beginning of the season that this was a year of re-establishment. We are only three quarters of the way through the season, so one of our big goals for this tour is to continue that re-establishment,” said coach Steve Hansen said.

“The tour gives our leaders and the team the opportunity to continue to grow, in what will be different environments and against opposition that will bring a different style of game and skillsets. This will ask questions of us and, in doing so, challenge us.

“Younger players will get more experience within the All Blacks environment, and it’ll allow the selectors and coaching group to keep working on blending the mixture of young talent with the more experienced players in our group. This will allow our game to continue to improve and will help ensure the team is future-proofed.

“As always, coaches, players and management will also need to continue to grow their skillsets and challenge themselves to improve their core roles.”

World champions the All Blacks kick-off their tour against Joe Schmidt’s side in Chicago on 5 November, before travelling to Rome to face Italy a week later.

New Zealand then meet Ireland again on 19 November, this time in Dublin, ahead of a showdown with France in Paris on 25 November.

All Blacks squad:

Hookers: Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Liam Coltman

Props: Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Owen Franks, Joe Moody, Ofa Tu’ungafasi

Locks: Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock

Loose forwards: Sam Cane, Elliot Dixon, Jerome Kaino, Steven Luatua, Kieran Read (capt), Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Matt Todd

Scrum-halves: Tawera Kerr–Barlow, T.J. Perenara, Aaron Smith

Fly-halves: Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden, Lima Sopoaga

Centres: Ryan Crotty, Malakai Fekitoa, Anton Lienert-Brown, George Moala

Outside backs: Israel Dagg, Rieko Ioane, Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Julian Savea, Ben Smith.

Scott Barrett will travel as injury cover for Whitelock and Jordie Barrett has been named as an apprentice.

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