All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has revealed plans for the end of year northern tour, including taking 51 players to Japan.
The sqaud will then head to London to embark on their three-Test series against England, Ireland and Italy.
“We’ll take 32 players to Europe, and we’ll take 32 initially to Japan, then an extra 19 players will come over for the Japan week,” Hansen said.
That will allow for upwards of 20 players to arrive in London early to prepare for the match at Twickenham the following week.
Most of the first-choice squad and trainer Nic Gill will fly to London that Thursday, while Hansen and the management group will remain for the one-off test in Tokyo on November 3 before joining the rest of the squad later.
While flanker Sam Cane will miss the tour with a fractured neck, Hansen is expecting the returns of hooker Dane Coles, prop Joe Moody, loose forward Liam Squire and lock Brodie Retallick as they recover from their respective injuries.
Coles has endured a long time out of rugby after battling through several knee injuries.
“It’s been a long process but we are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” Hansen said. “He gets through those games and not necessarily he jumps straight back into the test against Australia but he will have enough footy behind him to get some time at some stage on the tour which would be great.”
The aforementioned Moody and fellow All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala will face each other in provincial rugby this week, with Moody and Laulala returning for Canterbury and Counties Manukau respectively. Laulala hasn’t played since fracturing his forearm early in the Super Rugby season, while Moody broke his thumb during the All Blacks’ Bledisloe-sealing victory over Australia in August.
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