We now have the opportunity to take our game to the next level
The All Blacks selectors dropped two, added one and hedged their bets on the injured in a squad of 28 players named Sunday for the inaugural Rugby Championship starting later this month.
Blues prop Charlie Faumuina is the sole new face and becomes one of five props in the squad for the series which also involves South Africa, Australia and Argentina.
However, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has decided not to bolster the middle row and has chosen only three locks - Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano - while veteran Ali Williams remains sidelined by injury.
He has also retained only two scrumhalves - Aaron Smith and Piri Weepu - overlooking the credentials of Tawera Kerr-Barlow, a standout performer for the Chiefs who beat the Sharks in the Super Rugby Final at the weekend.
Hansen said the championship will be a step up from the recent series against Ireland which the All Blacks won 3-0.
"We now have the opportunity to take our game to the next level," he said.
"The three best teams in the world will be playing each other, and with Argentina joining in for the first time, it's going to be hugely exciting."
From the squad which played Ireland, wing Zac Guildford and prop Ben Tameifuna have been dropped and replacement flyhalf Beauden Barrett is not required, while replacement Liam Messam retains his place among six loose forwards.
The 25-year-old Faumuina, who can play both sides of the front row, missed the Ireland Tests because of injury as did wing Cory Jane who has now returned to the side.
"We would like to congratulate Charlie on his selection. He had to wait a while to get over his calf injury before he could be selected officially in the All Blacks," Hansen said.
"He's an outstanding front rower and we look forward to seeing him play at the next level."
An additional back, likely to be Sonny Bill Williams, will be added to the squad as cover for outside centre Conrad Smith who will miss at least the first two matches as he recovers from surgery for a detached retina.
Williams was believed to be out of contention for the All Blacks after announcing last month he had signed up for a stint in Japanese club rugby before a planned return to Australia's National Rugby League.
"We are all looking forward to the new Championship and the various challenges that it will bring," Hansen said.
"But we also know that we will need to step up from where we were in the recent series against Ireland."
The squad also sees the return of Hurricanes and Wellington outside back Cory Jane, who missed the series against Ireland with an ankle injury.
Players not considered for selection due to injury include Anthony Boric (neck), Jerome Kaino (shoulder), Colin Slade (leg), Richard Kahui (shoulder) and Ali Williams (knee).
The squad is made up of 16 forwards and 12 backs with a combined total of 879 Test caps and will again be captained by 106-Test All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, with Daniel Carter his vice-captain.
All Black squad:
Forwards: Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, Victor Vito.
Backs: Aaron Smith, Piri Weepu, Daniel Carter, Aaron Cruden, Tamati Ellison, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Israel Dagg, Hosea Gear, Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Julian Savea.
New Zealand's schedule for the Rugby Championship:
Saturday, August 18: v Australia (Sydney, 20.00 local time; 22.00 NZ time)
Saturday, August 25: v Australia (Auckland, 19.35 local time; 17.35 AEST)
Saturday, September 8: v Argentina (Wellington, 19.35 local time; 04.35 Arg time)
September 15: v South Africa (Dunedin, 19.35 local time; 09.35 SA time)
Saturday, September 29: v Argentina (La Plata, 20.10 local time; 11.10 Sunday Sept 29 NZ time)
Saturday, October 6: v South Africa (Johannesburg, 17.00 local time; 04.00 Sunday, Oct 7 NZ time)