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Bolters aplenty in All Blacks training squad

Published: 5:59AM Monday May 14, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Crusaders Luke Whitelock and Luke Romano are among the surprise selections in the All Blacks' 35-man wider training group revealed by Steve Hansen last night.

One of the major omissions is Crusaders wing Zac Guildford who, despite being one of the form wings in New Zealand, has been overlooked along with hooker Corey Flynn.

Hansen will today reveal the reasons for his selections. Guildford's omission, which could be related to his alcohol-fuelled indiscretions in Rarotonga after the World Cup, mean his chances of being selected for next month's three-Test series against Ireland may be bleak.

The squad will train in camps in Auckland and Wellington later this month and be whittled back to 30 on June 3 ahead of the opening Irish test on June 9 at Eden Park.

The naming of loose forward Whitelock and lock Romano does not guarantee the pair will earn their first caps against Ireland but they now have a path to higher honours if they can impress the new All Blacks boss.

The selection of Whitelock falls into the "bolter" category. Although he has been a regular fixture on the Crusaders bench this season he has only started twice at No8 and blindside flanker.

The squad includes 21 members of last year's World Cup squad and six players from last year's NZ under-20 side that won the world title. This includes Whitelock who captained the side and is in his first season of Super Rugby.

"We have two aims with the selection of the players for the camps. Our main aim is to begin to prepare a squad to win the series against Ireland; and secondly, it gives us the opportunity to introduce and work with some younger, talented players in the All Blacks environment," Hansen stated.

Hansen has also unveiled a number of other bold selections and has given an indication he is already looking to build for the future.

Exciting Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith has earned a call-up ahead of the Hurricanes' No9 TJ Perenara.

There was better news for Perenara's team-mates Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea and Brad Shields, however, who have all been included.

The selection of rugged loose forward Shields, who impressed for Wellington last year, is a surprise but Barrett and Savea have thrived following regular starts by coach Mark Hammett this season.

The Chiefs have also provided a host of newcomers, including monster 134kg prop Ben Tameifuna, halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow and openside flanker Sam Cane.

Utility back Richard Kahui has been selected despite dislocating shoulder in the Chiefs defeat to the Reds last night, as has prop Charlie Faumuina who pulled a calf muscle against the Lions on Friday night.

All Blacks training Squad

Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Richard Kahui, Conrad Smith, Tamati Ellison, Ma'a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett, Piri Weepu, Andy Ellis, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Smith

Forwards: Kieran Read, Victor Vito, Luke Whitelock, Brad Shields, Richie McCaw, Sam Cane, Adam Thomson, Sam Whitelock, Ali Williams, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Wyatt Crockett, Tony Woodcock, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Tameifuna, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore

What do you think of the squad? Have your say on the messageboard below?

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  • Stade Toulousain said on 2012-05-15 @ 02:17 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I think it's good to have young players in his team but I would have liked to see Liam Messam in this squad.

  • 24sp8s said on 2012-05-14 @ 22:58 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Well Done Shag Hansen, will include expired dated AB's & won't pick entirely on form, & we wonder why we have mass exodus to the UK/Japan every year, Kahui injured in, Taylor injured not selected.. WEIRD.

  • Wolfman said on 2012-05-14 @ 16:58 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I see the "Old Boys Club" is still alive and well in this country, it appears you have to be crippled or old to be dropped from the AB's, Oh hang on, that doesn't even stop being selected, i.e. Weepu, Williams, Nonu. I'm sorry this was always going to happen as they kept a coach from the past crew. Time they cleaned him out too.

  • jan69 said on 2012-05-14 @ 11:38 NZDT: Report abusive post

    "Just right now we believe Julian is playing better". So Julian's form is assessed on right now form, leaving Zac out, while Piri's form is assessed on past glory. Interesting logic, chosing one on being a "class" player, while the other is a "form" player. Having said that, whoever is chosen, I expect there are 1 million experts who think differently:-)

  • sportsman said on 2012-05-14 @ 10:42 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Encouraging with the amount of new faces, thats only the first squad, but you could pick an exciting 22 from it!! it would be surprising to see weepu and Williams make the final 22, could be their last chance!