WELLINGTON (AFP) – The New Zealand All Blacks gave expectant fathers Ardie Savea and Nepo Laulala permission yesterday 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 the 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.
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 October 31 in Sydney, in a match that will also serve as the third of four Bledisloe Cup Tests in a coronavirus-affected international season.