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Uncapped Ioane a likely All Black tourist

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/10/2016 Daniel Gilhooly

Rieko Ioane in action at the Rio Olympics. © Phil Noble/REUTERS Rieko Ioane in action at the Rio Olympics. It's not often an uncapped player is a certainty in an All Blacks tour squad but Auckland flyer Rieko Ioane goes close to that status.

Coach Steve Hansen is unlikely to veer far from the group who have rampaged through 2016 when he unveils his 36-man squad on Sunday for four Tests in the Northern Hemisphere.

"I'd be very surprised if anyone out of the current 32 we've got aren't on the plane," he said on Thursday.

It would be a shock if 19-year-old Ioane wasn't among the other four after a brilliant year with the Blues and All Blacks Sevens.

More recently, he has appeared too good for NPC level, producing an attacking highlight reel with Auckland.

Size, speed and versatility make him a logical choice to cover both wing and midfield, the latter an area Hansen is still building.

Eight players have already made debuts this year so Hansen may not be compelled to supply more new faces for a November tour to the United States and Europe which takes in Tests against Ireland (twice), Italy and France.

Another Blues player with strong credentials is Steven Luatua, who returned to top form this year and was unlucky to miss selection for the series against Wales and the Rugby Championship.

The 13-Test forward's ability to play at lock and loose forward is a major bonus.

Intrigue surrounds Hansen's third hooker, with two-Test rake James Parsons and the uncapped Liam Coltman options to back up Dane Coles and Codie Taylor in the absence of the injured Nathan Harris.

There have been reports Hansen is considering selecting a young hooker to tour in an apprentice capacity, as flanker Ardie Savea did three years ago.

Another tricky area is openside flanker, with Matt Todd having impressed since joining the Rugby Championship squad in place of the injured Sam Cane.

Cane is back and will tour, along with fellow-No.7 Savea, meaning Todd could be surplus to requirements.

Hansen may want to blood another tighthead prop or could consider taking all four looseheads used this year - including rookies Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Kane Hames - and make one of them switch sides if required.

Possible All Blacks tour squad:

Backs: Ben Smith, Damian McKenzie, Israel Dagg, Waisake Naholo, Julian Savea, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Malakai Fekitoa, George Moala, Ryan Crotty, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

Forwards: Kieran Read (capt), Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Matt Todd, Ardie Savea, Jerome Kaino, Elliot Dixon, Steven Luatua, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Owen Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Joe Moody, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Kane Hames, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Liam Coltman.

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