With the June tests against France less than three weeks away, the return of Kieran Read from injury is a huge boost for the All Blacks.
Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara is a fresh face in the All Blacks training squad.
All Blacks new and old are settling in to training camp at Mount Maunganui, including experienced No 8 Kieran Read.
There was something menacing about the Crusaders in their 23-3 win over the Blues on Saturday night in Christchurch.
Former All Black Sitiveni Sivivatu was beaten twice by English great Jonny Wilkinson over the weekend as Europe's club season reached its climax.
The first of two All Black training camps is underway in Mount Maunganui.
The much anticipated return of France to take on the All Blacks in the three Test Steinlager Series is proving a hit with fans with more than 71,000 already booking their seats.
It's an all-French final but New Zealand players and coaches will play another major role when the European Cup final is fought out.
In a bid to spark their own performance the Crusaders may consider inviting a freshly available local lad to deliver their pre-match motivational speech as they seek utu against the Blues.
It's been a mixed few days for Blues midfielder Francis Saili.
All Blacks winger Julian Savea has been remanded on bail after appearing in court on a charge of common assault.
Injury-plagued Dane Coles has been anointed the hooker to fill the gaping void behind veteran All Blacks Andrew Hore and Keven Mealamu.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has dismissed the concerns of Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, saying this year's exodus of top New Zealand players to overseas clubs is no worse than any time in his memory.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre left out experienced first-fives Francois Trinh-Duc and selected eight newcomers for next month's tour of New Zealand.
Smith was knocked out when attempting a tackle against the Bulls during the Hurricanes' 48-14 loss in Pretoria 10 days ago. He was unconscious for nearly a minute before being stretchered off for treatment.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has returned to light training after a six-month break but national coach Steve Hansen wants him to ease slowly back into top rugby.
Coach Steve Hansen admits the midfield has become a pressure point for All Blacks selection.
These All Black preparation camps are as much about Steve Hansen as they are the All Blacks.
Some 38 players have been named by All Black selectors to attend two training camps ahead of the three Steinlager Series Tests against France.
The playing future of Chiefs and All Blacks utility Richard Kahui remains up in the air.
The 27-year-old went under the knife last week.
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