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Hansen frees 12 for provincial rugby

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/08/2016

New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. © Fiona Goodall/Getty Images New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has liberated 12 squad members to play Mitre 10 Cup rugby this weekend after his side's Bledisloe Cup win over Australia.

Injury reinforcements Damian McKenzie, Seta Tamanivalu, Liam Coltman, James Parsons and Rieko Ioane will all return to the provinces after their last-minute inclusions in the second Bledisloe Test set-up.

Of the five, only Blues hooker Parsons and Chiefs centre Tamanivalu earned game time as the world champions swept to a 29-9 victory and retained the cup for a 14th consecutive year.

Parsons and young gun Ioane have been released to their Mitre 10 Cup teams, while the other three call-ups will resume their injury cover roles when the All Blacks reconvene in Hamilton on Sunday.

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Meanwhile, fringe All Blacks including first-five Lima Sopoaga, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu and Luke Romano will also play provincial rugby.

They'll be joined by Ryan Crotty and Codie Taylor, who both suffered head knocks in New Zealand's 42-8 first Test thumping of the Wallabies.

They too will return to the fold on September 4 in the Waikato before their side's Rugby Championship tussle with Argentina six days later.

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