Steve Hansen leaves scrum-half Piri Weepu out of All Blacks' squad
Last Updated: 05/08/13 10:53am
Piri Weepu during a recent training session with the All Blacks in Auckland
New Zealand have dropped veteran Piri Weepu for the forthcoming Investec Rugby Championship.
The 71-time capped All Black has been omitted in favour of rookie scrum-half TJ Perenara who is yet to make his international debut.
Weepu is one of five players who were involved during the recent Test series against France to be left out of coach Steve Hansen's 28-man squad.
The others are prop Ben Afeaki, forwards Victor Vito and Matt Todd, while Rene Ranger is absent due to personal reasons.
Hansen said: "He (Weepu) has been an outstanding contributor to New Zealand rugby and his greatest hour was through that World Cup in 2011 when he really stood up and played particularly well.
"He has been a great servant to the All Blacks and been an important part of our team for a long time both on and off the field.
"But there is a time when it is right to make the change and the three selectors as a group feel this is the time.
"We just felt that the speed of the game we are trying to play, Piri is just struggling with that.
"But we would like to congratulate TJ on his selection for the All Blacks. He has been impressive over the last couple of years and we feel the timing is right to now bring him into the squad.
"On the flipside, it's always difficult and disappointing for players when they miss out on selection, particularly for players like Piri and Victor who have been involved in the team for a number of years.
"But we have made it clear what we expect from them and the door is certainly not closed if they can deliver on those expectations."
Captain Richie McCaw is back to add to his 116 caps, following his recent break from the game, while Charlie Faumuina returns from a calf injury.
The upcoming series will pitch New Zealand against Australia, Argentina and South Africa, starting with the first Bledisoe Cup clash of the season in Sydney on August 17. The tournament runs until October 5.
New Zealand squad
Forwards: Dane Coles, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Steven Luatuam, Richie McCaw, Liam Messam, Kieran Read.
Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, T.J. Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Daniel Carter, Aaron Cruden, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea, Ben Smith