All Blacks trio strengthen Hurricanes

AUCKLAND – All Blacks backs Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea and Ngani Laumape have been released to play for the Wellington Hurricanes against the British and Irish Lions on Tuesday.

Loose forward Vaea Fifita, who made his debut against Samoa last week, has also been released to play the tourists at Wellington Regional Stadium.

All four will rejoin the All Blacks on Wednesday as they prepare for the second Test against the Lions, which is also in Wellington next Saturday.

The All Blacks won the opener 30-15 at Eden Park on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-test series.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen told reporters in Auckland the quartet would still be considered for the second Test.

“It doesn’t mean they won’t be playing a role on Saturday, it just means we want them to get a game,” Hansen said.

“Lions tours are important and we don’t want to lose them.”

All Blacks hooker Dane Coles, who has been cleared of concussion symptoms, would not be released for the Hurricanes as he was unfit after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Coles has already been ruled out of the remainder of the Lions series but could return for provincial duty if the Hurricanes make the playoffs in Super Rugby, Hansen added.

Brad Shields will lead the side in the absence of Coles and scrumhalf TJ Perenara, who is with the All Blacks.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd also selected 2015 World Cup winner Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Hurricanes: 15-Jordie Barrett, 14-Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13-Vince Aso, 12-Ngani Laumape, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Otere Black, 9-Te Toiroa-Tahuriorangi, 8-Brad Shields (captain), 7-Callum Gibbins, 6-Vaea Fifita, 5-Sam Lousi, 4-Mark Abbott, 3-Jeffrey To’omaga-Allen, 2-Ricky Ricitelli, 1-Ben May

Replacements: 16-Leni Apisai, 17-Chris Eves, 18-Mike Kainga, 19-James Blackwell, 20-Reed Prinsep, 21-Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, 22-Wes Goosen, 23-Cory Jane

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