Rugby Championship
Steve Hansen will rotate All Blacks squad
ESPN Staff
July 13, 2015
Samoa 16-25 New Zealand (Australia only)

Steve Hansen wants to play most, if not all, of his 41-man squad in the All Blacks' five Tests leading up to the Rugby World Cup, casting his net wide before naming a 31-man squad for the tournament on August 30.

The coach said on Sunday that he would make changes to his team to face Argentina in the Rugby Championship's opening Test in Christchurch on Friday, but he was tight-lipped when asked how many players would make way from the team that battled to a 25-16 win over Samoa in Apia.

Hansen did suggest, however, that uncapped pair Lima Sopoaga and James Broadhurst would not debut against a Pumas side he respects.

"It's a big ask to expect [Sopoaga] to come in and take over a role like five-eighth," Hansen said. "He's got quite a bit of learning to do before we let him loose. But, at some point, we'd like to think we can get everyone a bit of an opportunity over these next five games."

The All Blacks face further Rugby Championship Tests away to South Africa and Australia before their World Cup preparations conclude with a return Bledisloe Cup Test against the Wallabies in Auckland on August 15.

Hansen has all but a full squad at his disposal this week, with injured prop Charlie Faumuina and recuperating half-back Tawera Kerr-Barlow the only absentees. They have been replaced respectively by stand-ins Nepo Laulala and Andy Ellis. Laulala was one of four players to debut in Apia, where Ellis ended a four-year international drought, but Hansen has described his selection process as "a week-by-week proposition".

Seventeen players from the Hurricanes and Highlanders were unavailable to face Samoa because of their involvement in the Super Rugby final four days earlier. They arrived in Christchurch on Friday, a day before the rest of the squad to get up to speed for Test rugby.

Hansen says the two different sets of players will now be treated equally.

"We've put a full-stop on Super Rugby," he said. "We've come together to be an All Black team, but an All Black team is made up of individuals. We'll do what's right for the team, and what's right for the individual."


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