October 29, 2012
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ABs reward Coles, Kerr-Barlow with spots

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen on Monday named uncapped halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow and fellow rookie Dane Coles in his 32-man squad for New Zealand's upcoming Northern Hemisphere tour.

Kerr-Barlow, 22, and hooker Coles, 25, were the only new faces in a squad boasting a combined 1,103 Test caps that will face Scotland, Italy, Wales and England in New Zealand's first European tour since last year's World Cup triumph.

Hansen said the pair had been rewarded for their strong form in this year's Super 15 competition, Kerr-Barlow with the championship-winning Waikato Chiefs and Coles with the Wellington Hurricanes.

"They are young and exciting players and have shown this year that they look more than capable of stepping up to Test match rugby," he said.

Hansen also kept faith with Auckland Blues pair Piri Weepu and Ali Williams, who both struggled with poor form and injuries during the Super 15 season.

The only selection likely to raise eyebrows was Otago Highlanders forward Adam Thomson, who is yet to commit to a new contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union amid speculation he will announce plans this week to play in Japan.

New Zealand go into the tour undefeated in 17 matches, although their hopes of breaking international rugby's 18-game record for consecutive Test victories was scuppered by an 18-18 draw with Australia earlier this month.

Hansen has blooded a clutch of promising youngsters at Test level since taking over after the World Cup and said they were relishing the prospect of a Northern Hemisphere tour.

"For many of the newer players in the All Blacks it will be the first time they have experienced Test matches in the UK and Europe and they are always big occasions," he said.

"Overall, the team has been very happy with what we have achieved so far this year, but nothing has changed -- we are always looking to put in performances we are proud of and we are always looking to improve."

The 32-man New Zealand squad for the upcoming Northern Hemisphere tour involving Tests against Scotland (November 11), Italy (November 17), Wales (November 24) and England (December 1):

Backs (14): Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Waikato Chiefs), Aaron Smith (Otago Highlanders), Piri Weepu (Auckland Blues), Beauden Barrett (Wellington Hurricanes), Dan Carter (Canterbury Crusaders), Aaron Cruden (Waikato Chiefs) Tamati Ellison (Otago Highlanders), Ma'a Nonu (Otago Highlanders), Conrad Smith (Wellington Hurricanes), Israel Dagg (Canterbury Crusaders), Hosea Gear (Wellington Hurricanes), Cory Jane (Wellington Hurricanes), Ben Smith (Otago Highlanders), Julian Savea (Wellington Hurricanes).

Forwards (18): Dane Coles (Wellington Hurricanes), Andrew Hore (Otago Highlanders), Keven Mealamu (Auckland Blues), Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury Crusaders), Charlie Faumuina (Auckland Blues), Ben Franks (Canterbury Crusaders), Owen Franks (Canterbury Crusaders), Tony Woodcock (Otago Highlanders), Brodie Retallick (Otago Highlanders), Luke Romano (Canterbury Crusaders), Sam Whitelock (Canterbury Crusaders), Ali Williams (Auckland Blues), Sam Cane (Waikato Chiefs), Richie McCaw (capt) (Canterbury Crusaders), Liam Messam (Waikato Chiefs), Kieran Read (Canterbury Crusaders), Adam Thomson (Otago Highlanders), Victor Vito (Wellington Hurricanes).

AFP

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