Sunday, April 01, 2007

All Blacks trim down for Tri-Nations

June 28, 2006

New Zealand coach Graham Henry and his selection panel have trimmed the All Blacks 39-man roster that competed against Ireland and Argentina this past month down to 30 players for the Tri-Nations tournament kicking-off July 8th.

Former AB skipper Reuben Thorne -- who was omitted from the 39-man squad -- returns to the team in the only selection surprise.

"[Henry] was the last person I expected to hear from," Thorne said.

With the retirement of Tana Umaga this past year, the ABs retention of Thorne as an experienced level head isn't a bad idea. Thorne also played some of the best rugby of his career the past Super 14 season.

The New Zealand Herald reports frequent changes to the All Blacks starting XV is likely to be a feature of the expanded Tri-Nations this year:

Henry said the All Blacks weren't yet contemplating adopting the policy they used on last year's Grand Slam tour and for this month's tests against Ireland and Argentina.

However, the length and the physical nature of the Tri-Nations meant changes in personnel would be inevitable.

"We haven't picked 15 players for the first test and 15 for the following game and so on, but it's fair to say that the same 15 won't take the track for six tests matches," Henry said yesterday after naming his 30-man squad for the opening three Tri-Nations tests.

"A number of players will come and go depending on how they are physically and mentally, and to make sure we get the right 15 who are going to perform on that particular Saturday."


: Leon MacDonald, Mils Muliaina, Rico Gear, Doug Howlett, Joe Rokocoko, Scott Hamilton, Ma'a Nonu, Isaia Toeava, Aaron Mauger, Daniel Carter, Luke McAlister, Piri Weepu, Byron Kelleher, Jimmy Cowan.
FORWARDS: Rodney So'oialo, Richie McCaw (captain), Chris Masoe, Jerry Collins, Reuben Thorne, Chris Jack, Ali Williams, Jason Eaton, Greg Rawlinson, Carl Hayman, Greg Somerville, Neemia Tialata, Tony Woodcock, Anton Oliver, Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore.


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