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First All Black Training Squad Named

Written by Gwyn Pratley (Hertford Highlander)

Posted in :All Blacks, In the news, RWC 2011, Super Rugby on 22 Jun 2011 at 07:45
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

Duncan Johnstone writing on reports that Graham Henry’s first squad of the season has only one notable omission.

Stephen Donald has been told his Rugby World Cup dream is over unless there are injuries to players now ahead of him in the All Blacks pecking order.

Donald’s name was notably missing today when the All Blacks named a 25-man squad selected from players outside the Crusaders and Blues to take part in two training camps in Wellington over the next fortnight.

Aaron Cruden and Colin Slade have made the mix and Henry left no doubt they were in a fight to be Dan Carter’s backup.

“We just think other people are playing better right now,” Henry said of Donald’s absence.

“I talked to him about that yesterday and unless we have injuries, he’s not likely to be involved.”
Henry admitted it had been a difficult call to make to the often-maligned Donald, a 22-test veteran who was on the All Blacks’ end of year tour last season.

“It was difficult obviously because he has been a very positive member of that group for a long time. He’s a great guy to have in the team. He’s very well organised at training and those sorts of things.”

Donald didn’t have a great tour, failing to guide the All Blacks home against the Wallabies in Hong Kong.

He hasn’t been able to spark in another ordinary Chiefs Super Rugby season.

Donald has overseas offers which he is likely to now chase.

Cruden and Slade are back in the hunt after missing out on that tour last year. Slade has remained in contention despite playing little Super Rugby with the Highlanders because of two broken jaws.

Slade will return to club action in Christchurch this weekend.

Henry said they couldn’t afford to look at last year’s tour as a missed opportunity.

“You pick players on form at the time and we thought he (Donald) was the in-form five-eighth during the ITM Cup last year. But obviously you look back on those things and think about that. But that’s the reality. That’s why we selected him and that’s why things change.”

Among other notable names missing are fellow Chiefs first five-eighths Mike Delany, Chiefs flanker Tanerau Latimer and Highlanders prop Jamie Mackintosh, who have all been recent All Blacks.

Those not named seem unlikely to feature in the Tri-Nations and will struggle to break into Henry’s World Cup squad.

The Tri-Nations squad will be named on July 10.

There are three injured players also involved in the two camps – Israel Dagg, Isaia Toeava and Tony Woodcock

Ad Feedback Henry said: “The camps are a key part of our preparation for the season and will give us a great opportunity to assess where a number of players are at after a demanding Super Rugby season.

“While the first All Blacks squad for the year won’t be named until July the 10th, these players are in contention for selection so we were keen to monitor their progress as well as further develop their skills,” Henry added.

Henry said the camps would involve mainly skill-based training and New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens, who recently led his side to their ninth sevens world series title, would take a training run on day two of the camp.

Henry said the camps would also give the All Blacks medical staff the chance to assess those injured players, as well as others carrying niggles.

Players invited to the first camp:

Chiefs: Ben Afeaki, Hikawera Elliot, Richard Kahui, Brendon Leonard, Liam Messam, Mils Muliaina and Sitiveni Sivivatu.

Hurricanes: Aaron Cruden, Hosea Gear, Andrew Hore, Cory Jane, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Neemia Tialata, Victor Vito and Piri Weepu.

Highlanders: Jimmy Cowan, Tom Donnelly, Jarrad Hoeata, Colin Slade, Ben Smith and Adam Thomson.

Injured players: Israel Dagg, Isaia Toeava and Tony Woodcock.


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