The All Blacks have confirmed that three players will return home to New Zealand from the ongoing Tri-Nations tournament in Australia.
Suspended prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi, loose forward Du’Plessis Kirifi and centre Peter Umaga-Jensen will head back across the Tasman on Monday.
Tu’ungafasi was suspended for three weeks after his red card for a dangerous tackle in Brisbane.
Under fire All Blacks coach Ian Foster confirmed the trio’s exit.
“Because of the unique challenges of the tournament, with a number of Test matches over consecutive weeks and the ever-changing world of Covid-19 quarantining, we brought a bigger squad than normal to Australia.
“But we had always intended to send a few players back at this stage of the tournament, based on whether or not we had injuries.
“The advantage for the three players heading home is that they will get an extra two weeks of pre-season training and return to their Super Rugby clubs early. It also means we aren’t compromising our own preparation in the build-up for what will be a very important final Test of the year for us.”
The All Blacks are coming off back-to-back defeats for the first time since 2011 having lost to the Wallabies in Brisbane and Argentina for the first time ever in their history on Saturday.
As a result, pressure in growing on new coach Foster to deliver a vastly improved performance in their final tournament clash.
The All Blacks have a bye this coming weekend before concluding their Tri-Nations commitments against Argentina in Newcastle on November 28.