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Tri-Nations
All Blacks name 30-man Tri-Nations squad
ESPNscrum Staff
July 10, 2011
Jarrod Toeata in action for the Highlanders, Chiefs v Highlanders, Super Rugby, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand, May 7, 2011
Hoeata is the only uncapped player in Henry's 30-man squad © Getty Images
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The All Blacks have named their 30-man squad for the Tri-Nations and have included uncapped Highlanders lock Jarrad Hoeata.

Hoeata's call-up along with the omission of 68-cap Test winger Joe Rokocoko and Hurricanes fly-half Aaron Cruden, at the expense of 21-year-old Colin Slade, are the main talking points from Graham Henry's squad. Henry has included four players who are injury doubts for the opening game of the series on July 30 against South Africa in Wellington.

Blues prop Tony Woodcock (knee), Blues winger Isaia Toeava (hip), Hurricanes winger Hosea Gear (hamstring) and Crusaders winger Israel Dagg (thigh muscle) are all included but the All Blacks selectors have opted to call up cover for all four players. Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett, Hurricanes winger Cory Jane, Chiefs winger Sitiveni Sivivatu and Highlanders winger Ben Smith will all train with the 30-man squad and will hope to gatecrash the World Cup party.

Hoeata, 27, has played for the New Zealand Maoris and the Sevens side in the past, but after a successful season with the Highlanders in Super Rugby, where he started every game, he has finally been given national recognition. Hoeata, despite being able to play at blindside, has been selected as a specialist lock, according to Henry. Blues lock Anthony Boric has missed out due to injury.

Henry paid tribute to Hoeata saying "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." All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen offered further praise for the 27-year-old and has earmarked him as someone who may step into Brad Thorn's considerable shoes when the veteran leaves New Zealand to play in Japan after the World Cup.

The squad also sees the return of a number of players to the All Blacks, most notably Ali Williams who has played 61 Tests for the national side who made his rugby comeback this year after two years out of the game with Achilles and shoulder injuries. "Ali hasn't played All Blacks rugby for 31 months," Henry said, talking to the NZPA. "Many people thought he would never play again, perhaps in a very weak moment it may have even crossed his mind, but knowing Ali as we do, he's an extremely determined fellow, a very important guy in the All Blacks over the years ... so it's great to see him back and a real achievement for tenacity and determination."

Corey Flynn, Richard Kahui and Piri Weepu also return to the All Blacks after injury ruled them out of contention for last year's end of season Grand Slam winning tour to the northern hemisphere. Crusaders centre Robbie Fruean, however, misses out but Henry had words of encouragement for the 22-year-old labelling him as a "player for the future."

The All Blacks will continue their preparations with a two-day camp in Auckland on Thursday and Friday. The team will then assemble in Dunedin on July 18 to prepare for the Test against Fiji at Carisbrook on Friday July 22. For Henry, the match against Fiji holds special importance following the February earthquake in Christchurch.

"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 said. "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."

New Zealand start their Tri-Nations with a Test against South Africa in Wellington on July 30.

All Blacks squad

Forwards: John Afoa (Auckland) Corey Flynn (Canterbury), Ben Franks (Tasman), Owen Franks (Canterbury), Jarrad Hoeata (Taranaki) Andrew Hore (Taranaki), Jerome Kaino (Auckland), Richie McCaw (captain, Canterbury), Keven Mealamu (Auckland), Liam Messam (Waikato), Kieran Read (Canterbury), Adam Thomson (Otago), Brad Thorn (Canterbury), Sam Whitelock (Canterbury), Ali Williams (Auckland), Tony Woodcock (Auckland)

Backs: Daniel Carter (Canterbury), Jimmy Cowan (Southland), Israel Dagg (Hawke's Bay), Andy Ellis (Canterbury), Hosea Gear (Wellington), Zac Guildford (Hawke's Bay), Richard Kahui (Waikato), Mils Muliaina (Waikato), Ma'a Nonu (Wellington), Colin Slade (Canterbury), Conrad Smith (Wellington), Isaia Toeava (Auckland), Piri Weepu (Wellington), Sonny Bill Williams (Canterbury)

Injury cover: Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury), Cory Jane (Wellington), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Waikato), Ben Smith (Otago)

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