All Blacks head back to basics
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw will make his comeback from injury in New Zealand's club competition
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- All Blacks coach Graham Henry has released 15 players to club rugby this weekend to help sharpen up for the Tri-Nations. Henry will announce his Tri-Nations squad on Saturday ahead of their first Test against Australia on July 18, and skipper Richie McCaw and No.8 Rodney So'oialo have both been asked to get game-time under their belts after long injury layoffs.
Winger Sitiveni Sivivatu will also make his return from injury, turning out for Frankton in Waikato. The other players who will return to their roots this weekend are Luke McAlister, John Afoa, Lelia Masaga, Brendon Leonard, Liam Messam, Aled de Malmanche, Bryn Evans, Cory Jane, Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, George Whitelock and Andrew Hore.
- Calvisano have pulled out of the race to provide one of Italy's entrants in the Magners League due to financial trouble.
Chiefs at the club have also pulled the plug on their involvement in next season's Super 10, a dire state of affairs for a side that has competed in seven of the last eight Heineken Cups and won Italian titles in 2005 and 2008. Italy's contribution of two sides in to the Celtic competition from 2010-11 will force current clubs to take a step back from professionalism in a similar manner to Welsh Premiership clubs, but Calvisano have been forced to make that distinction at an early stage.
Calvisano's players are now free to find other clubs, with hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, flanker Alessandro Zanni and centre Matteo Paratichetti likely to excite the interest of European clubs.
"It's a very sad decision and a terrible day for Italian rugby," said Calvisano president Francesco Casali. "We tried all we could to try to overcome this situation but without the appropriate level of funding, it was almost impossible to match the economic request of the Italian Rugby Federation in terms of Magners League and even in thinking about forming a team adequate for the competitons we would be involved in the upcoming season. The board discussed a lot but we have not been able to find a valid solution. We really are destroyed about the situation."
- The Ospreys management have been forced to wait on the arrival of their new signing, former All Black flanker Jerry Collins. Collins has been unable to attend pre-season training due to a delay with his work permit, although club chiefs don't expect the problem to prevent his arrival ahead of the new season.
"An application for a work permit has been submitted through the appropriate channels and we must wait for the paperwork to be completed before Jerry is able to join the rest of the squad for pre-season training," said Elite Performance Director Andrew Hore . "It's a situation that is, unfortunately, out of our control, but is one that we are used to through our prior experience of recruiting overseas players. We fully understand and appreciate the regulations that are in place, and we just have to wait for due process to be completed. We don't expect the delay to be a lengthy one and look forward to Jerry arriving at Llandarcy soon."
- Italy prop Salvatore Perugini has made the switch from Toulouse to their Top 14 rivals Bayonne. Perugini, 31, has signed a two-year deal with the club that finished seventh last season following three years with Toulouse, during which time he won the Bouclier de Brennus in 2008.
- Wellington breezed through their first Ranfurly Shield defence of the season as expected, dominating Wairarapa-Bush in all aspects of the game in Masterton for a 90-19 win.
It took just three minutes for Wellington to cross the tryline on the first of 13 occasions, with Hurricanes winger David Smith the beneficiary as his backline swung into action. Smith was one of three players who picked up a brace, with scrum-half Tony Bradshaw and teenage fullback Jason Woodward the others to profit.