While South Africa are still squabbling and threatening court action, the Kiwis have already completed their rounds of civilised horse trading and have named their five Super 14 squads – each of which looks to have a nice balance of experienced players and up-and-coming talent. I repeat, there was no litigation or arbitration involved at any stage. Miraculous.
A few players have moved around – in particular, flyhalf Stephen Brett has moved from the Crusaders to the Blues, while wing Zac Guildford has gone from the Hurricanes (where he benched a lot last year) to the Crusaders. Daniel Bowden has moved in the opposite direction to Brett, while both scrumhalf Alby Matthewson and flank Serge Lilo have left the Canes to join the Blues. Luke Braid, one of the Blues’ best loose forwards last year, will play for the Chiefs in 2010.
Notable returnees from Europe include Chris Jack (Saracens via WP) and, of course, Dan Carter (Perpginan), both back with their beloved Crusaders, and the skillful Luke McAlister, who has returned to the Blues after a spell with Sale.
New Zealand’s squads: (D indicates draft pick)
Tony Woodcock, John Afoa, Charlie Faumuina, Tevita Mailau, Keven Mealamu, Tom McCartney, Anthony Boric, Ali Williams, Kurtis Haiu, Jerome Kaino, Peter Saili, Serge Lilo (D), Tom Chamberlain, Chris Lowrey, Viliame Maafu, Alby Mathewson, Chris Smylie, Stephen Brett (D), Daniel Kirkpatrick (D), Luke McAlister, Benson Stanley, Isaia Toeava, George Pisi, Rudi Wulf, Anthony Tuitavake, Joe Rokocoko, Rene Ranger, Paul Williams.
Nathan White, Ben Afeaki, James McGougan, Sona Taumalolo, Aled de Malmanche, Hika Elliot, Kevin O’Neill, Craig Clarke, Callum Retallick, Romana Graham, Jarrad Hoeata (D), Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Luke Braid, Sione Lauaki, Colin Bourke, Brendon Leonard, Junior Poluleuligaga, Stephen Donald, Mike Delany, Callum Bruce, Jackson Willison, Richard Kahui, Lelia Masaga, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dwayne Sweeney, Tim Nanai-Williams, Mils Muliaina.
John Schwalger, Jacob Ellison, Neemia Tialata, Anthony Perenise, Andrew Hore, Dane Coles, Jeremy Thrush, Bryn Evans, James Broadhurst (D), Jason Eaton, Michael Paterson, Victor Vito, Karl Lowe, Scott Waldrom, Rodney So’oialo, Nick Crosswell, Piri Weepu, Tyson Keats (D), Aaron Cruden, Willie Ripia, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Jason Kawau (D), Tamati Ellison, David Smith, Hosea Gear, Andre Taylor, Cory Jane.
Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Peter Borlase, Corey Flynn, Ti’i Paulo, Brad Thorn, Isaac Ross, Chris Jack, Sam Whitelock, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, George Whitelock, Jonathan Poff, Thomas Waldrom, Andy Ellis, Kahn Fotuali’i, Daniel Carter, Daniel Bowden (D), Ryan Crotty, Tim Bateman, Robert Fruean, Adam Whitelock, Sean Maitland, Kade Poki, Zac Guildford, Colin Slade, Jared Payne.
Jamie Mackintosh, Clint Newland, Chris King, Bronson Murray (D), Jason Macdonald, Jason Rutledge, Josh Bekhuis, Tom Donnelly, Hayden Triggs, Joe Tuineau, Adam Thomson, Alando Soakai, John Hardie, Tim Boys, Nasi Manu, Stephen Setephano, Jimmy Cowan, Sean Romans, Matt Berquist (D), Michael Hobbs, Jayden Hayward, Jason Shoemark (D), Kendrick Lynn, James Paterson, Fetu’u Vainikolo, Ben Smith, Robbie Robinson, Israel Dagg