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All Blacks set for injection of Chiefs

Published: 5:31PM Tuesday May 08, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

The Chiefs outstanding Super Rugby form is set to be rewarded when the first All Blacks squad of 2012 is announced next Monday.

The top-of-the-table Chiefs, with nine-wins and just one-loss, have delivered way beyond expectations this season and today coach Dave Rennie confirmed that the All Blacks coaches have had one-on-one chats with a number of prospects.

"I think in the original list that came out of who they wanted to sit and have a talk to there was only three or four," Rennie told ONE News.

"That grew to about eight last week and there's other guys who are coming into a bit of form and they're aware of and probably keen to watch the progress there over the next couple of weeks. So we're pretty happy with the amount of guys they're talking to."

Aaron Cruden, Richard Kahui, Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Messam are undoubtedly the Chiefs who were certain of selection in the All Blacks before the Super Rugby season and that has not changed.

The All Blacks coaches have loyalty to those who did the business for them last year and even though Messam eventually missed the World Cup squad, Jerome Kaino's injury means he is an automatic selection.

The other Chiefs being heavily considered for the three-Test series against Ireland next month are believed to be former All Blacks Hika Elliot and Tanerau Latimer while big locks Brodie Retallick and Craig Clarke are understood to be also on the periphery.

Blues prop Charlie Faumuina, who today confirmed he was staying with the Auckland-based franchise for the next two seasons, is also set to be named in the initial 35-man All Blacks training squad.

Faumuina, who has been one of the only bright spots in the Blues' forgettable season, revealed to ONE News that he did have a one-on-one chat with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen yesterday.

A man of few words, Faumuina, who is capable of playing both sides of the scrum, said "they just said to keep on what I'm doing," and in an underperforming side that has been destroying opposition scrums.

Faumuina will have some familiar faces around him in the All Blacks. Blues frontrow partners Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu are also certain of selection with Ali Williams, Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu.

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