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Eye on future as Squire preferred to Kaino

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen admits he had one eye on the future when selecting Liam Squire for Saturday’s trans-Tasman Test in Sydney.

The 26-year-old Squire will line up at blindside flanker for the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener ahead of 81-Test enforcer Jerome Kaino, who has been left out of the Kiwi matchday squad altogether.

A two-time Rugby World Cup winner, Kaino was a little short of luck in this year’s drawn British and Irish Lions Test series.

After a bruising display in the All Blacks’ first-Test win, Kaino was subbed early in the second Test due to Sonny Bill Williams’ red card and then earned a yellow card of his own in the drawn third-Test decider.

Yet with Kaino now aged 34, Hansen felt it was the right time to mix things up, calling on the nine-Test Squire to make his presence felt.

He too suffered his fair share of Lions misfortune, breaking a thumb in the lead-up to the series and missing all three Tests.

“He’s trained really well since he’s come back, played well, he has a lot of energy. We think that energy will suit us well on Saturday,” Hansen said.

“It gives us a really good opportunity to see how far he has come. We’ve still got a very talented man in Jerome Kaino in the wings, waiting to get a crack, and Vaea (Fifita) is also growing all the time.

“We need to start looking to the here and now a bit, but also the future.”

The Highlanders-based Squire, for his part, couldn’t wait to get stuck into the Australians after coming off the bench in all three 2016 trans-Tasman Tests.

He said the presence of fellow loosies Kieran Read and Sam Cane would make life easier, as the Kiwis look to retain the Bledisloe for a 15th straight year.

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