31 May 2009

Muliaina to captain All Blacks

5:07 pm on 31 May 2009

Mils Muliaina is to captain the All Blacks for the tests against France and Italy in the place of the injured Richie McCaw.

The All Blacks squad for the three tests includes three new players - prop Wyatt Crocket, lock Isaac Ross and openside flanker Tanerau Latimer.

Missing from the team is number eight Rodney Soialo, but All Blacks selector Graham Henry says the Wellington captain is nursing a neck injury and needs a rest from top level rugby.

Mr Henry says Soialo will return to the team for the Tri Nations.

Liam Messam is likely to take over from Soialo.

Latimer is the only open side flanker named but Henry says Adam Thompson may start in the number seven position in place of McCaw.

Stephen Donald is the only first five named, with halfback Piri Weepu, one of three halfbacks named, to be the cover.

Brendon Leonard and Ali Williams have both been included in the squad, but neither are expected to be available for the first French test. Bryn Evans will be called in to the squad as cover for Williams.

The full squad is: Tony Woodcock, John Afoa, Wyatt Crocket, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, Isaac Ross, Brad Thorn, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu, Brendon Leonard, Stephen Donald, Ma'a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Conrad Smith, Rudi Wulf, Josevata Rokocoko, Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane and Isaia Toeava.