It was announced on Sunday that New Zealand will release their All Blacks for the first two matches against Super Rugby teams – Auckland Blues and the Crusaders –
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the Blues and Crusaders would be able to select players from the squad he names for the three test matches.
“That’s all been sorted. The first two Super Rugby games before we assemble they’ll all be available,” Hansen told Fairfax media on Sunday. “After that they’ll be with us.”
This was not the case in 2005 when Graham Henry kept his squad away from the provincial matches.
It means that the Blues could feature players like centre Sonny Bill Williams, blindside flanker Jerome Kaino and lock Patrick Tuipulotu from among their All Blacks contingent.
The Crusaders are likely to be even heavier (sic) with all Blacks
They are the seven-times Super Rugby champions, and could have as many as 12 players in the All Blacks squad, including virtually an entire forward pack led by national captain Kieran Read.
There has been a lot of media speculation that the Lions could win the series, although the likely late departure of around a third of the squad has been largely ignored as a potential hazard.
I think Warren Gatland’s men are going to need the support of every one of the likely 25,000 travelling fans come the June and July tests.