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Four New Caps Named In All Blacks

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, May 30 NZPA - Four new caps have been named in the All Blacks for rugby tests next month against Ireland and Wales.

The 26-man squad named today contain newcomers in Manawatu first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, Auckland second five-eighth Benson Stanley, Wellington loose forward Victor Vito and Hawke's Bay fullback Israel Dagg.

As well, Auckland wing Joe Rokocoko has been recalled and Wellington utility Piri Weepu has been included after earlier signalling he was considering offers to play in France.

The selection deliberations of New Zealand coaches Graham Henry, Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen in recent weeks have been complicated due to a growing list of injuries which ruled out a series of players, among them hooker Andrew Hore, wing Sitiveni Sivivatu and second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu.

That list was extended as late as yesterday when Chiefs first five-eighth Stephen Donald was ruled out for at least three weeks after injuring a shoulder during a club match in Hamilton.

Otago lock Tom Donnelly and Waikato fullback Mils Muliaina have been included despite spending lengthy spells on the sideline this season due to injury.

Donnelly has not played since early March while Muliaina's scheduled comeback from a broken thumb was delayed by a calf strain.

Cruden is coming off his first season of Super rugby, featuring strongly for the Hurricanes, while Dagg impressed with a series of consistent performances for a faltering Highlanders team.

Stanley, a hard-tackling midfield back, has been promoted on the back of Nonu's unavailability while former sevens star Vito has shown a more robust style to his game for the Hurricanes.

The All Blacks play Ireland at New Plymouth on June 12 before a two-match series against Wales, at Dunedin on June 19 and Hamilton a week later.

All Blacks squad:-

Backs: Dan Carter (Canterbury), Jimmy Cowan (Southland), Aaron Cruden (Manawatu), Israel Dagg (Hawke's Bay), Zac Guildford (Hawke's Bay), Cory Jane (Wellington), Richard Kahui (Waikato), Mils Muliaina (Waikato), Joe Rokocoko (Auckland), Conrad Smith (Wellington), Benson Stanley (Auckland), Piri Weepu (Wellington.

Forwards: Anthony Boric (North Harbour), Aled de Malmanche (Waikato), Tom Donnelly (Otago), Ben Franks (Tasman), Owen Franks (Canterbury), Jerome Kaino (Auckland), Richie McCaw (Canterbury, captain), Keven Mealamu (Auckland), Kieran Read (Canterbury), Adam Thomson (Otago), Brad Thorn (Canterbury), Neemia Tialata (Wellington), Victor Vito (Wellington), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour).

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