Not end of road for 'The Bus' says Hansen

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 09:31
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REACTION: Coach Steve Hansen insisted Julian 'The Bus' Savea has a future with the All Blacks despite dumping the blockbusting wing from his Rugby Championship squad on Monday.

Savea, who has scored 46 tries in 55 Tests, missed out as a fit-again Nehe Milner-Skudder returned to the frame in Hansen's 33-man squad.

Savea had previously been a regular in New Zealand's No.11 jersey since 2012, but he now finds himself dropped on his 27th birthday and in an increasingly precarious position.

He was only required for the third Test in the Lions series, and was then relegated to the bench by the Hurricanes for their Super Rugby semifinal against South Africa's Lions.

But Hansen said Savea's All Blacks career was not over, adding that he would he meeting with the giant wing later this week.

"Julian's been a very, very good All Black for us and done some great things - I feel for him a wee bit at this stage," Hansen said. 

"He's disappointed and so he should be. He's done a lot in the jersey, he's enhanced it when he's worn it and his time's not over.

"We've organised to talk to him later in the week where he'll be better ready to hear the messages and there are some good messages to give him."

With the exception of Milner-Skudder and a recall for prop Nepo Laulala, the squad reflects the frontline players used in the recent drawn series against the British and Irish Lions.

Milner-Skudder has been making a rapid return to form after being out of rugby for must of the past two years with injury problems. He last played for the All Blacks in the 2015 World Cup final. 

New Zealand squad:

Forwards: Dane Coles (Hurricanes), Nathan Harris (Chiefs) Codie Taylor (Crusaders), Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders), Owen Franks (Crusaders), Nepo Laulala (Chiefs), Joe Moody (Crusaders), Ofa Tu'ungafasi (Blues), Scott Barrett (Crusaders), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Luke Romano (Crusaders), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders), Sam Cane (Chiefs), Vaea Fifita (Hurricanes), Jerome Kaino (Blues), Kieran Read (captain, Crusaders), Ardie Savea (Hurricanes), Liam Squire (Highlanders). 

Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs), Thomas Perenara (Hurricanes), Aaron Smith (Highlanders), Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Lima Sopoaga (Highlanders), Ryan Crotty (Crusaders), Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes), Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs) Sonny Bill Williams (Blues), Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes), Israel Dagg (Crusaders), Rieko Ioane (Blues), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes), Waisake Naholo (Highlanders), Ben Smith (Highlanders). 

Utility replacement: Damian McKenzie (Chiefs)

AFP

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