New Zealand rugby selectors omitted Stephen Donald from a training squad ahead of the Tri-Nations, signaling the Chiefs’ fly-half may miss out on a World Cup spot.
Donald, who’s played 22 Tests for the All Blacks, wasn’t among the 25-man list named for the first of two training camps as rival No. 10s Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden were included. Canterbury Crusaders and Auckland Blues players weren’t considered because they qualified for the Super Rugby playoffs.
The camps, which will be held June 29-30 and July 5-6 in Wellington, are a “key part” of the All Blacks’ preparations for the season and will give selectors the chance to asses players after a “demanding Super Rugby season,” All Blacks coach Graham Henry said.
“These players are in contention for selection so we were keen to monitor their progress as well as further develop their skills,” Henry said in a statement.
The All Blacks’ Tri-Nations squad will be named July 10. The World Cup, hosted by New Zealand, starts Sept. 9.
Players invited to first camp:
Chiefs: Ben Afeaki, Hikawera Elliot, Richard Kahui, Brendon Leonard, Liam Messam, Mils Muliaina, Sitiveni Sivivatu.
Hurricanes: Aaron Cruden, Hosea Gear, Andrew Hore, Cory Jane, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Neemia Tialata, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu.
Highlanders: Jimmy Cowan, Tom Donnelly, Jarrad Hoeata, Colin Slade, Ben Smith, Adam Thomson.