New Zealand
All Blacks bolster squad ahead of Samoa Test
ESPN Staff
July 2, 2015
Charlie Ngatai has joined the All Blacks squad as midfield cover © Getty Images

Uncapped Chiefs midfield backs Charlie Ngatai and Seta Tamanivalu are among three players added to the All Blacks squad to prepare for the Test against Samoa on Wednesday next week. Three-Test Crusaders utility back Tom Taylor also joined the squad who gathered in Auckland on Thursday to begin preparations for the historic Test in Apia.

Seventeen of coach Steve Hansen's squad of 41 announced last month are unavailable because of their involvement in Saturday's Super Rugby final between the Hurricanes and Highlanders in Wellington. With injury issues surrounding some others, Hansen initially announced two standby players - halfback Andy Ellis and uncapped prop Nepo Laulala.

He boosted numbers further last week when three uncapped players joined a training camp in Auckland - midfield back George Moala, halfback Brad Weber and prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi. They will remain with the squad while the latest additions provide further backline depth, where the All Blacks are particularly thin in the midfield and outside backs.

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Maori All Blacks captain Ngatai, 24, is in his sixth season of professional rugby, having developed into a consistent performer in three seasons for the Chiefs. This season was disrupted for five weeks by an ankle injury.

Tamanivalu is a surprise inclusion, having made just three starts for the Chiefs. He showed explosive attacking ability alongside Ngatai when Taranaki claimed their maiden NPC title last year and was named player of the championship.

Taylor, 26, played three Tests in 2013, including a Bledisloe Cup starting debut at first five-eighth in Wellington when a host of other playmakers were injured. He has signed to play for French club Bayonne next year.

The All Blacks team for the Test will be announced on Monday morning and they will leave later that day.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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