Four uncapped players named in All Blacks squad

Ian Foster has turned to Sam Whitelock to captain the All Blacks in place of the injured Sam Cane for two tests against Fiji and one against Tonga next month.

Coach Foster named a 36-man squad for the matches on Monday, which included four uncapped players in forwards Ethan de Groot and Ethan Blackadder and backs Finlay Christie and Quinn Tupaea.

Foster said Cane, who is sidelined with a pectoral injury, would still have involvement with the squad and that selecting 122-cap lock Whitelock to lead the team onto the pitch had been a simple decision.

"He's an outstanding All Black, we don't use that word often, but I think he deserves it," Foster said.

"He's been a member of the leadership group for a long time and ... we've got a lot of faith in that group."

Foster's main selection quandary was in the centres, where last year's starters Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown are both injured and Ngani Laumape is set to depart New Zealand for French club rugby.

Lienert-Brown was named in the hope that he will recover from elbow surgery in time to play some part in the July campaign, while a call-up Waikato Chiefs inside centre Tupaea was something of a surprise.

"The biggest conversations we had were about the midfield," Foster added.

"We've picked five midfielders, Anton's injury has allowed us to bring in Quinn. We haven't got a lot of 12s."

David Havili, who last wore an All Blacks jersey in 2017 but gets a recall after successfully transitioned from fullback this season, Braydon Ennor and Rieko Ioane were the other centres named in the squad.

Scrumhalf Christie gets his chance after some eye-catching performances in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman for the Auckland Blues, who beat the Otago Highlanders in the final on Saturday.

TJ Perenara, who usually vies for the number nine jersey with Aaron Smith, is ineligible for selection after taking a sabbatical in Japan.

New Zealand play Tonga in Auckland on July 3 before back-to-back tests against Fiji in Dunedin and Hamilton.

All Blacks squad

Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, George Bower, Ethan De Groot, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Angus Ta'avao, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa'i, Samuel Whitelock, Ethan Blackadder, Shannon Frizell, Akira Ioane, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hosikins Sotutu

Backs: Finlay Christie, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Reiko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Will Jordan, Damien McKenzie, Sevu Reece