Thursday, October 23, 2008

New All Black flanker 'to back up McCaw'
By JIM KAYES, The Dominion Post
Monday, 20 October 2008

Richie McCaw's All Blacks backup No 7 will be an uncapped player with Taranaki's Scott Waldrom and Bay of Plenty's Tanerau Latimer the prime contenders.

Both were included in a 25-strong training squad that excludes the Wellington and Canterbury players who will contest Saturday's Air New Zealand Cup final. The squad will play a game against the Barbarians on Wednesday with the 35-strong squad for next month's five-test tour named on Sunday.

Forwards coach Steve Hansen confirmed yesterday that an uncapped specialist would be named on Sunday to deputise for McCaw.

"That's pretty fair to say. Adam Thomson can play there and he might on tour but he won't be the specialist who is backing up Richie."

Hansen would not comment on perhaps the most notable omission from the squad - Hawke's Bay hooker Hika Elliot - who had been with the All Blacks as injury cover this year.

It suggests Canterbury's Corey Flynn will join Andrew Hore and Keven Mealamu on the plane to Hong Kong, though Wellington's Dane Coles could be a bolter.

Another in that category is Lions teammate, halfback Alby Mathewson, as Auckland's Taniela Moa, who travelled to South Africa with the All Blacks in August, has missed out. Andy Ellis and Piri Weepu would be expected to join Jimmy Cowan in the All Blacks but Ellis hurt a knee in Canterbury's 31-21 semifinal win against Hawke's Bay on Saturday night. He is listed as doubtful for Saturday's final, and if he was ruled out of the tour, Mathewson could be named as an All Black on Sunday.

While head coach Graham Henry said two weeks ago the squad was all-but picked, Hansen said "some whittling down" had to be done after Saturday's final."We've got more players than we need, so we'll be at the final looking at a couple of players in a couple of positions."

Lock is certain to be one of those positions, along with prop, wing, fullback and possibly hooker.
Jason Eaton's slow return from injury took another step with his inclusion in the training squad but the 10-test All Black will be sweating on the performances of Wellington's Ross Filipo and Jeremy Thrush in the final.

Five locks will be named with Brad Thorn, Ali Williams and Anthony Boric certainties. The All Blacks claims of Wellington's Hosea Gear and Cory Jane could be helped by what position Isaia Toeava is named in. He made his debut at fullback, has been used by the All Blacks at wing and centre, and played for Auckland at first five-eighth. With Mils Muliaina a chance to miss next week's test against Australia in Hong Kong because of the impending birth of his first child, a fullback is required.

Jane is a specialist but Toeava can play there too. His merits might be hotly debated by the public, but he is a firm favourite of the All Blacks coaches. Four wings are in the training squad - Joe Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Rudi Wulf and Anthony Tuitavake - but Gear will be hoping his form for Wellington has earned him a callup.

It could come at the expense of Wulf, though Tuitavake could be used at centre where he played the majority of his rugby for the Blues. Sione Lauaki's charmed life as an All Black seems set to continue with his inclusion in the training squad. It has to be hoped Canterbury's Kieran Read joins the loose forwards mix after he was sensationally left out after the Super 14 because he had apparently played too much rugby.

All Blacks wider training group: John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Jason Eaton, Ben Franks, Andrew Hore, Richard Kahui, Jerome Kaino, Tanerau Latimer, Sione Lauaki, Jamie Mackintosh, Keven Mealamu, Liam Messam, Mils Muliaina, Josevata Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Adam Thomson, Brad Thorn, Isaia Toeava, Anthony Tuitavake, Scott Waldrom, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock and Rudi Wulf.

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