Du'Plessis Kirifi cracks nod in All Blacks squad

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Du'Plessis Kirifi. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Du'Plessis Kirifi. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The New Zealand All Blacks gave expectant fathers Ardie Savea and Nepo Laulala permission on Tuesday to delay their departure to Australia for the Rugby Championship.

Coach Ian Foster named a 38-man squad for the truncated tournament, which will not feature world champions South Africa this year.

Flanker Savea and prop Laulala were both granted paternity leave and are expected to travel to Australia after their offspring arrive "in the next week or two".

Prop Joe Moody will travel with the squad on Sunday but is still undergoing concussion tests after a head knock in the second Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Auckland last Sunday.

Foster added Otago prop George Bower and Wellington flanker Du'Plessis Kirifi as cover. Kirifi, who starred for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Aotearoa, is known to South Africans due to the fact that he was named after former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis.

Centres Ngani Laumape and Peter Umaga-Jensen have overcome injury to make the squad, as has lock Mitchell Dunshea.

New Zealand open the tournament against hosts Australia on 31 October in Sydney, in a match that will also serve as the third of four Bledisloe Cup Tests in a coronavirus-affected international season.

New Zealand squad for Rugby Championship:

Forwards

Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, George Bower, Alex Hodgman, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Joe Moody, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Mitchell Dunshea, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa'i Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Shannon Frizell, Cullen Grace, Akira Ioane, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea and Hoskins Sotutu

Backs

TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Jack Goodhue, Rieko Ioane, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Jordie Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece

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