Mealamu to Lead All Blacks Squad as McCaw, Carter Get Rest

New Zealand rugby selectors rested nine senior players including captain Richie McCaw and playmaker Dan Carter for next week’s Tri-Nations match in South Africa.

Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Brad Thorn, Kieran Read, Conrad Smith, Mils Muliaina and Sitiveni Sivivatu were also left off the 25-man squad named today. Hooker Keven Mealamu will captain the All Blacks in McCaw’s absence, while Israel Dagg, Richard Kahui, Tony Woodcock and Isaia Toeava all return from injury.

New Zealand tops the Tri-Nations standings after beating South Africa and Australia at home. Coach Graham Henry said the Aug. 20 game against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth was a chance for players to press their case for inclusion in the 30-man squad for the World Cup starting next month.

“We have players returning from injury who will be playing for the All Blacks for the first time this year, while others will be looking to take the opportunity to stake a further claim in the black jersey and ensure selection in the Rugby World Cup,” Henry said in a statement. “We will have a team which is hungry to play well.”

Second-rower Jarrad Hoeata was passed fit to travel today following a scan on his injured right shoulder. Tom Donnelly was released from the squad, which will depart tomorrow.

Forwards: John Afoa, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Jarrad Hoeata, Andrew Hore, Jerome Kaino, Keven Mealamu, Liam Messam, Adam Thomson, Samuel Whitelock, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock, Victor Vito.

Backs: Jimmy Cowan, Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford, Richard Kahui, Cory Jane, Ma’a Nonu, Colin Slade, Isaia Toeava, Piri Weepu, Sonny Bill Williams.

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