All Blacks Coach Graham Henry and his Assistant Coaches Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith have today announced the squad for the 2011 Investec Tri Nations and the All Blacks Test against Fiji For Canterbury, with the selection of new All Black Jarrad Hoeata and the return of several All Blacks the key features of the 30-strong squad.
The squad, which will be captained by All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, is made up of 16 forwards and 14 backs and packs huge experience with 1028 Test caps between them.
There is a sole new All Black in the squad, Highlanders and Taranaki lock Jarrad Hoeata, who started every match for the Highlanders this year in his outstanding second Investec Super Rugby season. The 27-year-old, who was born in Tauranga, made his provincial debut in 2006, played for the New Zealand Sevens team the same year and also featured strongly for New Zealand Maori in last year’s Sealord Centenary Series.
All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said: “We are excited to be naming this first squad of the year in what is undoubtedly a huge year not only for the All Blacks but the country as a whole.”
Henry also offered his congratulations to Hoeata: “He is the only new All Black selected so this will be a very special moment for him. He thoroughly deserves his selection and we congratulate him.”
Four players named in the Investec Tri Nations squad are recovering from injuries – Tony Woodcock (foot), Isaia Toeava (hip), Hosea Gear (hamstring) and Israel Dagg (thigh muscle) – so the All Blacks selectors have also announced that four players will assemble with the squad as injury cover: Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett, Hurricanes winger Cory Jane, Chiefs winger Sitiveni Sivivatu and Highlanders winger Ben Smith.
Henry said they were confident that the rehabilitation plans in place for the four injured players would see them play some part in the Investec Tri Nations.
“They are all making good progress on their individual rehab plans and will play some ITM Cup games before returning to Test match rugby.”
The squad also sees the return of a number of players to the All Blacks, most notably 61-Test Blues and All Blacks lock Ali Williams who made his rugby comeback this year after two years out of the game with Achilles and shoulder injuries. Corey Flynn, Richard Kahui and Piri Weepu also return to the All Blacks after injury ruled them out of contention for last year’s Telecom BackingBlack Grand Slam tour to the Northern Hemisphere.
One player, Blues and North Harbour lock Anthony Boric was not considered due to the foot injury, suffered in the Blues’ Investec Super Rugby Finals Series qualifying match against the Waratahs last month.
“Our first Test against Fiji in Dunedin will be an important first step in our season, plus there’s extra significance because we are playing for the people of Canterbury. The thoughts of the team are still with the folk of Canterbury as they try to rebuild their lives so we hope we see as many fans as possible at Carisbrook for this fundraising match,” Henry added.
“The Investec Tri Nations also remains an important competition for the team this year. We are proud of the record we have achieved over the years and the fact that we have held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003 and it is crucial as we look to build towards the Rugby World Cup.”
The All Blacks will continue their preparations with a two-day camp in Auckland next week (Thursday and Friday). The team will then assemble in Dunedin on Monday 18 July to prepare for the Test against Fiji at Carisbrook on Friday 22 July.
The All Blacks squad (with province and Test caps in brackets) is:
John Afoa Auckland (30)
Corey Flynn Canterbury (12)
Ben Franks Tasman (7)
Owen Franks Canterbury (22)
Jarrad Hoeata Taranaki *
Andrew Hore Taranaki (50)
Jerome Kaino Auckland (37)
Richie McCaw (capt) Canterbury (94)
Keven Mealamu Auckland (83)
Liam Messam Waikato (6)
Kieran Read Canterbury (30)
Adam Thomson Otago (17)
Brad Thorn Canterbury (50)
Samuel Whitelock Canterbury (13)
Ali Williams Auckland (61)
Tony Woodcock North Harbour (74)
Daniel Carter Canterbury (79)
Jimmy Cowan Southland (44)
Israel Dagg Hawke’s Bay (6)
Andy Ellis Canterbury (18)
Hosea Gear Wellington (6)
Zac Guildford Hawke’s Bay (4)
Richard Kahui Waikato (11)
Mils Muliaina Waikato (94)
Ma’a Nonu Wellington (56)
Colin Slade Canterbury (1)
Conrad Smith Wellington (45)
Isaia Toeava Auckland (30)
Piri Weepu Wellington (44)
Sonny Bill Williams Canterbury (4)
* New All Black
Investec Tri Nations
All Blacks v South Africa. Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 7.35PM, Saturday 30 July.
Tickets from Ticketek, phone: 0800 842 538 or www.ticketek.co.nz
Children from $26. Adults from $72
All Blacks v Australia. Eden Park, Auckland, 7.35PM, Saturday 6 August
Tickets from Ticketmaster, phone: 0800 111 999 or www.ticketmaster.co.nz
Children from $15, Adults from $45.
All Blacks v South Africa. Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth,
South Africa, 5.05PM, Saturday 20 August
All Blacks v Australia. Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, 8.05PM,
Saturday 27 August