Strategic Steve Hansen reveals thinking behind huge 51-man All Blacks squad

All Blacks coach Steven Hansen has explained the reasoning behind his decision to select a whopping 51 players for this year's end of year tour with both key 2018 Tests and next year's World Cup on his mind.

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The All Blacks coach confirmed 32 players will be used in Europe with the extra 19 only needed for the short Japan leg. Source: 1 NEWS

Hansen announced his large squad in Christchurch today before specifying it had been broken into two units - a 32-man team and a 19-strong wider squad.

The 32-man roster will be used throughout the tour while the extra 19 will only feature during the Japan leg of the tour.

"The idea of only naming 32, which is one less than last year, is to try and simulate as much as possible conditions that we will face from a selection point-of-view in the Rugby World Cup," he said.

"We have two games in Japan which allows us to simulate the round robin part of that competition."

Hansen said there was also a focus on the tour itself.

"With the big games of England and Ireland coming, we wanted to send a group of players early to London so they could get acclimatised and rest so we can get straight into our work on Monday morning.

"So we're sending 22 guys over early, hence the reason why we needed to bring some extras for the Japan week."

Hansen promised some "exciting" rugby from the penciled-in Japan team with a mix of experienced players and fresh faces included.

"[The extra 19] will go home after the Japan Tour so we won't have 51 on the tour. Only 32."