Cape Town - Under pressure wing Rieko Ioane is one of nine players released by the All Blacks for the third round of the Mitre 10 Cup.
The others are Brad Weber, Liam Coltman, Josh Ioane, Vaea Fifita, Braydon Ennor, Atu Moli, Jackson Hemopo and Luke Jacobson.
According to the Stuff website, Ioane, who was dropped in favour of George Bridge for Saturday's 36-0 Bledisloe Cup thumping of Australia in Auckland, is expected to play for Auckland against Bay of Plenty at Eden Park on Saturday.
Given the All Blacks don't play again until September 7 - against Tonga in Hamilton - Ioane and some of the other released players could also be made available in Round 4.
Ioane, who has struggled for form since early in Super Rugby, watched on as Bridge impressed in the No 11 jersey on Saturday, when he scored a try and set up another.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will announce his 31-man Rugby World Cup squad on Wednesday, August 28.