New Zealand Rugby
All Blacks have an eye on World Cup
October 18, 2009
Graham Henry has one eye on the 2011 Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
All Blacks coach Graham Henry has admitted that his selection policy for their November Test tour was influenced by the looming presence of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Henry has called on four new caps for the tour, which begins against Australia in Tokyo on October 31. Wing Zac Guildford, centre Tamati Ellison, fly-half Mike Delany and Otago utility Ben Smith have all been called in after excellent performances in the Air New Zealand Cup.
"This tour is very much about selection going forward. There is a small eye for the rugby World Cup and we have to make sure our selections are right," Henry said. "There are probably about 10 guys injured at the moment and there are a number of very good players left behind. They've got an opportunity to come back (so) it's important these guys cement themselves in the team."
Other young options, including Manawatu pivot Aaron Cruden, Southland's Robbie Robinson and Hawke's Bay fullback Israel Dagg are in the selectors' thoughts but will need to prove their worth at Super 14 level.
"Form for new caps is critical, obviously," Henry said. "The Air New Zealand Cup is not as high as Super 14 but it gives us a selection base. It's the avenue we've got to select from. There's been some quality rugby played, but there's no better measuring stick than international rugby and playing at the highest level to see if guys are up to the level required."
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