All Blacks name 2011 Rugby World Cup squad

The All Blacks have named their 30-man squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup which will be captained by Richie McCaw.

Whilst on the whole the squad is largely what was expected there were a few surprises such as the exclusion of backline veteran Sitiveni Sivivatu and the inclusion of novice flyhalf Colin Slade.

Winger Sivivatu, who has scored 29 tries in 45 tests, is the notable victim of crowded competition for backline places while the All Blacks coaches have kept faith in young playmaker Colin Slade, who has played only five tests.

Slade is chosen as backup to star flyhalf Dan Carter for the Sept. 9 to Oct. 23 World Cup, though he came close to playing himself out of the squad with a substandard display for the All Blacks against South Africa last weekend.

Carter’s understudy was one of the most vexed elements of the All Blacks selection and, history shows, one of the most crucial calls the selectors have had to make.

Carter, who holds the record for the most test points by any player (1219), limped off in the last 20 minutes of New Zealand’s quarterfinal against France at the 2007 World Cup. In his absence, the All Blacks had no one capable of kicking a dropped goal to avoid a 20-18 defeat.

Slade has slowly emerged this season as Carter’s preferred understudy, though his performances in his only two test starts, against Fiji and the Springboks, have lacked confidence and authority.

He muffed kickoffs, missed touches, threw an intercepted pass and had a kick charged down during New Zealand’s 18-5 loss to South Africa last weekend. But coaches Graham Henry, Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen appear to have decided it is too late to find an alternative.

Sivivatu and fellow winger Hosea Gear have missed places as the selectors have had to fit five candidates for the wingers’ roles into three positions. Veteran Mils Muliaina and Israel Dagg have been chosen at fullback while Cory Jane, Zac Guildford and Isaia Toeava have been named on the wings.

Dagg played himself into the squad with a strong performance against the Springboks, overcoming a season which has been damaged by injury. Jane, Guildford and Toeava have been preferred because of their versatility to Sivivatu and Gear who are wing specialists.

Jane covers fullback and wing, while Toeava covers wing, fullback and center. Guildford can play on the left or right wings while Dagg can also play as a winger.

In other contentious selections, John Afoa has been chosen at prop ahead of Wyatt Crockett, partly because of Crockett’s technical problems which continue to attract penalties. Anthony Boric has been chosen ahead of Jarrad Hoeata at lock, though the Auckland Blues player hasn’t played a match since suffering a foot injury on June 24.

Victor Vito has been named among five backrowers, winning his place ahead of Liam Messam.

“Firstly, I would like to congratulate all those players selected,” Henry said. “It’s an incredibly exciting time for the team and a unique opportunity to represent New Zealand at home. The players will be facing the ultimate rugby challenge – playing for the most coveted trophy in world rugby, the Rugby World Cup.

“At the same time I want to pay tribute to those players who have missed out on selection. It was an incredibly difficult process; all the players who missed selection are not only outstanding players but special people. We are close as a group which made this selection all the more difficult.”

Five players – captain Richie McCaw, Carter, Muliaina, hooker Keven Mealamu and lock Ali Williams, will be playing at their third World Cups and seven others at their second. New Zealand has not won the world title, currently held by South Africa, since it hosted the inaugural tournament in 1987.

“Generally, this team has been selected on current form,” Henry said. “We believe there is a good balance, a blend of experienced All Bl

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