21 Jul 2010

Messam and Ranger not going to Melbourne

7:41 am on 21 July 2010

The All Blacks selectors have named a 26-man squad for the first Tri-Nations rugby Test against Australia in Melbourne on July 31st and Liam Messam and Rene Ranger will be left at home.

Piri Weepu may have to stay too, as his wife's about to have their first child - so Alby Matthewson will cover for him at halfback.

Messam and Ranger are among nine players who've been made available for pre-season games this week ahead of the provincial championship which starts starts on Thursday week.

Auckland plays Northland in Dargaville on Wednesday and if they're required John Afoa and Benson Stanley will play for Auckland and Ranger for Northland.

The same goes for Anthony Boric when North Harbour play Counties Manukau in Pukekohe, and Messam when Waikato play the Japanese side Toshiba in Hamilton. Both games are also on Wednesday.

On Friday Wellington play Canterbury in Christchurch and in Palmerston North, Manawatu host Hawke's Bay.

So Victor Vito and Corey Flynn could play for Wellington and Canterbury with Aaron Cruden and Israel Dagg possibles for Manawatu and Hawkes Bay respectively.

The squad to go to Melbourne this weekend is:

Forwards, Afoa, Boric, Donnelly, Flynn, Ben and Owen Franks, Kaino, McCaw, Mealamu, Read, Thorn, Vito, Whitelock, Woodcock.

Backs: Carter, Cowan, Cruden, Dagg, Jane,Muliaina, Nonu, Rokocoko, Smith, Stanley, Weepu.