Weepu cut as All Blacks lift tempoThe All Blacks' desire to play the game at pace has led to the axing of experienced halfback Piri Weepu from their Rugby Championship squad.
The 71-Test veteran's omission, with uncapped Hurricane TJ Perenara taking his place, is the major feature of the 28-man line-up announced on Sundayip networking HK.
Coach Steve Hansen says the door isn't closed on Weepu, who had a key hand in the All Blacks' 2011 World Cup triumph.
But the final Test of the June series against France confirmed in the selectors' mind that it was time for a change.
Weepu started that match in New Plymouth, but was subbed off just minutes into the second half.
"We just felt that, the speed of the game we're trying to play, `Pow' is just struggling with that," Hansen saidphone cover cases.
"We just think it's time to say, `Look, you go away and see if you can sort out that issue'. In the meantime, young TJ can have a crack."
Hansen said the 29-year-old Weepu needed to get sharper and fitter so that the skill set he possessed could flourishbeauty wigs.
"It will be a good challenge for Piri," he said.
"If Piri really wants to get back in, he will put his hand up and show us that he can."
The other omissions in a reduced squad from the home series against France are loose forwards Victor Vito and Matt Todd, prop Ben Afeaki and outside back Rene Ranger.
Ranger, who is heading to French club Montpellier at the end of the year, made himself unavailable for family reasons, opting to skipper Northland in the ITM Cup instead.
The All Blacks will lose Ranger's blockbusting impact off the bench, but Hansen understood and supported the player's decision and wished him the best for his future.
Vito and Todd lose out as Steven Luatua retains his spot and skipper Richie McCaw makes his expected return after a six-month sabbatical.
Also back is tighthead prop Charlie Faumuina from a calf injury that ruled him out of the France series.
Vito, who has 22 caps to his name, has been told to work on adding aggression and physicality to his athleticism away from the limelight and pressure of the All Blacks.
Meanwhile, uncapped loosehead prop Joe Moody had been brought in as injury cover for Crusaders teammate Wyatt Crocket, who is set to miss the start of the Rugby Championship with a knee injury.
Three wider training group members have also been named - Wellington lock Jeremy Thrush, North Harbour midfield back Francis Saili and Counties Manukau winger Frank Halai.
The three will assemble with the squad at the start of a Test week, but return to their provincial teams on the Wednesday.
The All Blacks' first match of the tournament is a Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Sydney on August 17.
All Blacks squad:
Forwards - Dane Coles, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Steven Luatua, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Kieran Read;
Backs - Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Daniel Carter, Aaron Cruden, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea, Ben Smith.