Take a look at the squad Steve Hansen has named for the upcoming Rugby Championship.

New Zealand Rugby Championship Squad

Steve Hansen has named a strong XV to face Australia this week with Sam Whitelock set to make his 100th Test start in the second-row.

Beauden Barrett will continue his partnership with Aaron Smith and interestingly Jack Goodhue comes into the backline to reignite his partnership with fellow Crusader Ryan Crotty.

Ben Smith comes in at full-back and Damian McKenzie starts on the bench.

New Zealand team to face Australia in the Rugby Championship – Saturday 18th August 

Moody, Taylor, Franks, Retallick, Whitelock, Squire, Cane, Read, A.Smith, Barrett, Ioane, Crotty, Goodhue, Naholo, B.Smith

Replacements: Nathan Harris, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown

As you would expect, New Zealand are the favourites to win the Rugby Championship again in 2018.

The Christchurch-based Crusaders are Super Rugby champions again, the All Blacks are world champions and just defeated the French 3-0 in their June series, and as always with Kiwi rugby, their strength in depth is the envy of every other rugby nation.

Steve Hansen has named his training squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship and, despite some large omissions, it is still incredibly strong.

When questioned on the squad, Hansen said: “Whilst last year was about growing depth, and we’ll need to continue to do that in some positions, this year is more about growing our game and our player combinations within that.

“By the end of the year, we should have a clearer picture of who and what will be needed for next year’s Rugby World Cup campaign.”

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Some of the big names who missed out were the Crusaders trio of Bryn Hall, George Bridge and Matt Todd. The Hurricanes pair Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and Vaea Fifita also miss out.

“It has to be noted that there are some very good players who have not made the squad,” Hansen added.

“However, as we’ve seen in previous campaigns, a number of these players will get an opportunity through injury, just like Liam [Coltman] and Ngani [Laumape] already.”

Coltman has been brought in as injury cover for Dane Coles and Laumape for Sonny Bill Williams.

New Zealand Rugby Championship Squad

Forwards: Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Owen Franks, Joe Moody, Tim Perry, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Jackson Hemopo, Shannon Frizell, Kieran Read (capt), Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Luke Whitelock.

Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Sonny Bill Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith.

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