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Ranger pulls out of All Black’s Rugby Championship

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New Zealand utility back Rene Ranger has withdrawn from the All Black Rugby Championship squad citing family reasons.

The six-Test international, who is heading to France at the end of the year, said he would see out his time in New Zealand playing provincial rugby.

Although Ranger has signed to play for French side Montpellier, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen named the 26-year-old in his training camp ahead of announcing the championship squad on Sunday.

He said he wanted the best players to front against South Africa, Australia and Argentina regardless of their long-term availability, but said he understood Ranger’s position.

“We fully understand and support him in this decision and wish him and his family all the best for the rest of the year here in New Zealand, and for their next adventure in France,” Hansen said in a brief statement.

Ranger will still play for his Northland team in New Zealand’s provincial championship which clashes with the Tests over the next two months.

The blockbusting runner had been in the Test wilderness since playing three internationals in 2010 but earned a recall this year for the series against France in June after an explosive Super Rugby season with the Auckland Blues.

Also missing from the All Blacks squad is 71-Test scrumhalf Piri Weepu with the uncapped Hurricanes player TJ Perenara joining the other incumbent number nines Aaron Smith and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

As expected, regular captain Richie McCaw returns from his sabbatical after missing all of the Super XV championship apart from playing a total of 25 minutes off the bench for the Crusaders in the play-off rounds.

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