Three new caps and the absence of an "injured" Rodney So'oialo are the features of Graham Henry's squad of 26 for the Iveco Series named in Auckland today.
Chiefs openside flanker Tanerau Latimer, and Crusaders pair lock Isaac Ross and prop Wyatt Crockett are the three newcomers to international rugby named in a squad that is missing a who's who of New Zealand rugby.
And coach Graham Henry revealed today that So'oialo was among those not considered for selection because of neck problems.
There had been widespread speculation that the Hurricanes captain would not be selected on form alone, but Henry confirmed he would use the next month to get himself back into optimum physical shape.
All Blacks fullback Mils Muliaina, who led his Chiefs team to this year's Super 14 final, has been named as captain of the All Blacks, replacing the injured Richie McCaw.
"Mils is in the leaders group in the All Blacks. He has done a fantastic job as captain of the Chiefs in the Super 14 and he has a great deal of respect and mana amongst his peers," Henry said.
Meanwhile, Hurricanes and Hawke's Bay lock Bryn Evans and Canterbury and Crusaders prop Owen Franks, who have been named in the Junior All Blacks squad today, have been called into the wider All Blacks training squad as lock and prop cover.
Players not considered due to injury include Crusaders captain Richie McCaw (knee), Chiefs winger Sitiveni Sivivatu (shoulder), Blues lock Anthony Boric (toe), Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis (ribs), Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn (forearm), Hurricanes loose forward Scott Waldrom (back), as well as Daniel Carter (Achilles).
Henry said So'oialo would be using this time out of the All Blacks to focus on rehabilitation for his neck injury.
"Rodney has had an incredibly demanding Super 14 season, starting in 13 of the Hurricanes matches this year and that follows several years of intense, top-level rugby. We are taking a proactive approach and giving him some time to recover and rehab."
Henry said So'oialo would return to the All Blacks for the Tri-Nations.
Henry said he and fellow coaches Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen were looking forward to kicking off the international season against the French and Italians.
"France will again be a difficult challenge for the All Blacks. They have picked their strongest squad available and history shows they are often successful against the All Blacks."
Henry also noted that French coach Marc Lievremont, when announcing his French team, had stated that they were coming to New Zealand to win.
"Italy will bring a different challenge. They will be well coached by the very experienced South African coach Nick Mallet and will bring a lot of physicality and scrummaging power to the contest," Henry said.
The first Test in the Iveco Series is in Dunedin on 13 June when the All Blacks play France. The second Test against the French is in Wellington on 20 June, followed by the one-off Test against Italy in Christchurch on 27 June.
All Blacks Squad:
John Afoa - Auckland
Jimmy Cowan - Southland
Wyatt Crockett * - Canterbury
Stephen Donald - Waikato
Andrew Hore - Taranaki
Cory Jane - Wellington
Richard Kahui - Waikato
Jerome Kaino - Auckland
Tanerau Latimer * - Bay of Plenty
Brendon Leonard - Waikato
Keven Mealamu - Auckland
Liam Messam - Waikato
Mils Muliaina - Waikato
Ma'a Nonu - Wellington
Kieran Read - Canterbury
Josevata Rokocoko - Auckland
Isaac Ross * - Canterbury
Conrad Smith - Wellington
Adam Thomson - Otago
Brad Thorn - Canterbury
Neemia Tialata - Wellington
Isaia Toeava - Auckland
Piri Weepu - Wellington
Ali Williams - Auckland
Tony Woodcock - North Harbour
Rudi Wulf - North Harbour
* denotes new cap