All Blacks coach Graham Henry has announced his 30 man touring squad to take on the Aussies in Hong Kong, and then go on to tour the British Isles. The most exciting inclusion in the squad must be the big boy Sonny Bill Williams.
The squad, which boasts 972 Test caps between them, is made up of 16 forwards and 14 backs and will again be captained by 89-Test star Richie McCaw. Meanwhile, star playmaker Daniel Carter also returns to the All Blacks squad after missing the last Tri Nations Test against Australia to undergo ankle surgery.
Players not considered for selection because of injury include: Israel Dagg (quadricep), Corey Flynn (calf), Richard Kahui (shoulder), Luke McAlister (jaw), Piri Weepu (broken ankle), and Ali Williams (Achilles tendon).
A glaring omission from the team must be the 109 kg, 22 year old Robbie Fruean, who partners Sonny Bill Williams at Canterbury to make up a 217kg centre pairing.
The All Blacks touring squad:
Forwards: John Afoa (Auckland – 25 caps), Anthony Boric (North Harbour – 16 caps), Daniel Braid (Auckland – 4 caps), Tom Donnelly (Otago – 13 caps), Hikawera Elliot (Hawke’s Bay – 0 caps), Ben Franks (Tasman – 7 caps), Owen Franks (Canterbury – 17 caps), Andrew Hore (Taranaki – 47 caps), Jerome Kaino (Auckland – 33 caps), Richie McCaw (Canterbury – 89 caps) (captain), Keven Mealamu (Auckland – 80 caps), Liam Messam (Waikato – 5 caps), Kieran Read (Canterbury – 25 caps), Brad Thorn (Canterbury – 46 caps), Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury – 8 caps), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour – 69 caps).
Backs: Andy Ellis (Canterbury – 14 caps), Daniel Carter (Canterbury – 74 caps), Jimmy Cowan (Southland – 41 caps), Stephen Donald (Waikato – 19 caps), Hosea Gear (Wellington – 2 caps), Cory Jane (Wellington – 20 caps), Alby Mathewson (Wellington – 1 cap), Mils Muliaina (Waikato – 89 caps), Ma’a Nonu (Wellington – 52 caps), Josevata Rokocoko (Auckland – 66 caps), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Waikato – 43 caps), Conrad Smith (Wellington – 41 caps), Isaia Toeava (Auckland – 26 caps), Sonny Bill Williams (Canterbury – new All Black).
New Zealand’s tour itinerary:
Saturday, October 30:
v Australia at Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
Saturday, November 6:
v England at Twickenham, London
Saturday, November 13:
v Scotland at Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Saturday, November 20:
v Ireland at AVIVA Stadium, Dublin
Saturday, November 27:
v Wales at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff