The All Blacks have named their travelling party for the upcoming Bledisloe cup game and tour of Europe. For the games against Australia, then Tests against Wales, Italy, England and France follow with a match against the Barbarians in December rounding off the trip. The big surprise in the squad in the omission of Joe Rokocoko who has 60 caps to his name. The squad will again be lead by Flanker Richie McCaw (wearing his Adidas 915 rugby boots).
Zac Guildford and Tamati Ellison were two of the four new faces named in the New Zealand squad for their end of year tour to Japan and Europe, but the real surprises were fly-half Mike Delany and wing Ben Smith.
Delany has been in good form for Bay of Plenty during the Air New Zealand Cup, while Smith has shone for Otago and will also provide cover at full-back.
Guildford, a winger, has been rewarded for a stellar Air New Zealand Cup campaign with Hawke’s Bay.
The 20-year-old is the competition’s leading try-scorer with 13 but will not get the chance to add to thattally as he will be on the plane to Tokyo on October 25.
Utility back Ellison earns his spot after impressing while with the All Blacks as cover for Isaia Toeava during the Tri-Nations.
Another interesting point is the switching of coaching positions in the All Black management. Head Coach Graham Henry will take the forwards, Steve Hansen Attack and Wayne Smith taking over defense. This is the first time the coaches have swapped roles and something the coaches feel will benefit the team
“We’re always trying to improve what we’re doing and we think this is an opportunity to do that and get better,” said Henry.
Forwards: John Afoa (Auckland), Anthony Boric (North Harbour), Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury), Tom Donnelly (Otago), Jason Eaton (Taranaki), Corey Flynn (Canterbury) Owen Franks (Canterbury), Andrew Hore (Taranaki), Jerome Kaino (Auckland), Tanerau Latimer (Bay of Plenty), Richie McCaw (Canterbury, captain), Liam Messam (Waikato), Kieran Read (Canterbury), Rodney So’oialo (Wellington), Adam Thompson (Otago), Brad Thorn (Canterbury), Neemia Tialata (Wellington), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour).
Backs: Daniel Carter (Canterbury ), Jimmy Cowan (Southland), Mike Delany (Bay of Plenty) Stephen Donald (Waikato), Andy Ellis (Canterbury) Tamati Ellison (Wellington), Zac Guildford (Hawke’s Bay) Cory Jane (Wellington), Brendon Leonard (Waikato), Luke McAlister (North Harbour), Mils Muliaina (Waikato), Ma’a Nonu (Wellington), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Waikato), Ben Smith (Otago) Conrad Smith (Wellington).
British and Irish Lions and Ospreys Scrum Half Mike Phillips has been ruled out for 3 months with a knee injury he picked up when facing Clermont Auvergne. This is bad news both for the Ospreys and Wales who will now be without their number one scrum half. This opens the door for Sale and Wales scrum half Dwayne Peel or Cardiff Blues scrum half Gareth Cooper to reclaim the shirt they both have prevosouly worn for Wales.
Another two Lions were injured on the weekend with both English Props Andrew Sheridan and Phill Vickery being ruled out with Shoulder and neck injuries. Sheridan who plays for the Sale Sharks dislocated his shoulder on Friday night against Cardiff Heineken cup, meaning he needs surgery and will be out for around 4 months. Vickery the world cup winner of 2003 suffered the injury against Racing Club metro last Sunday in the European challenge cup. This will have not have pleased England coach Martin Johnson with England hooker Lee Mears already ruled out, as well as Delon Armitage and Ricki Flutey from His first choice starting 15.
Springbok centre Jaque Fourie is free to leave the Golden Lions and will be allowed to play for a different side next season – which is looking highly likely to be Western Province.
According to media reports, Fourie will no longer be committed to the Johannesburg-based franchise in 2010 after several weeks of contractual conflicts.
In an ongoing dispute, the World Cup-winning midfielder (who wears Adidas Predator Rugby boots) required a release from the Lions in order to take up a lucrative offer from Western Province to play alongside Springbok winger Bryan Habana in Cape Town next year.
The Lions wouldn’t play ball and fought to keep their star player from moving, claiming that their contract with the Fourie was set to run through to the end of 2010.
After a lengthy arbitration period he has now been cleared for a move away from the Super 14 strugglers.