WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The All Blacks will not take six first-choice players on their Rugby Championship trip to Argentina as they rest them in the midst of a gruelling international season, coach Steve Hansen said Monday.
Hansen said locks Samuel Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, loose forwards Liam Squire and Sam Cane and backs Beauden Barrett and Ryan Crotty had all been excused from making the trip to Buenos Aires.
However, Jerome Kaino, Matt Todd and Patrick Tuipulotu were recalled to the 28-man squad after missing the world champions' record 57-0 demolition of South Africa on the weekend.
Hansen said the All Blacks face a tough schedule and he needed to rotate his squad.
"We struggled at times last year, this is the hardest time of the year for us, so we are just trying to think outside the box and think of ways to keep the players fresh," he said.
"This also gives us a chance to build player depth and experience."
The All Blacks play Argentina on September 30, then face South Africa in Cape Town a week later in the tournament's final round.
New Zealand squad: Forwards: Wyatt Crockett, Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala, Jeffery Toomaga Allen, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Patrick Tuipulotu, Vaea Fifita, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd. Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, David Havili, Damian McKenzie, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo.