Powerful Junior All Blacks side named

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NZPA     12 Jun 2009     Getty Images

Ben Franks, Jason Eaton, Hosea Gear and Anthony Tuitavake have all played for the All Blacks, and Junior All Blacks coach Ian Foster said their proven experience would be invaluable.

"It's always challenging playing in the heat and humidity of Samoa and they were a tough opponent last time we faced them. But we believe we have a strong side and are looking forward to kicking off our Pacific Nations Cup campaign," Foster said.

As previously announced, Counties Manukau's Lelia Masaga has been called into the All Blacks squad as cover for Rudi Wulf. A decision on a replacement player for Masaga has yet to be made.

Wellington's Alby Mathewson did not travel to Samoa with the squad because of a shoulder injury. He will re-join the squad in Fiji if his injury permits.

Meanwhile, Otago's Sean Romans is on standby to join the squad as replacement cover for Mathewson, pending IRB approval.

Junior All Blacks coaches Ian Foster and Colin Cooper have named their side to play Samoa in their opening Pacific Nations Cup match in Apia on Friday at 4.00pm (local time/ Saturday 3.00pm New Zealand time).

The team is: Israel Dagg, Rene Ranger, Anthony Tuitavake, Tamati Ellison (captain), Hosea Gear, Colin Slade, Chris Smylie, Victor Vito, George Whitelock, Jason Eaton, Tom Donnelly, Jeremy Thrush, Ben Franks, Aled De Malmanche, Jacob Ellison

Reserves: Hikawera Elliot, John Schwalger, Craig Clarke, Alando Soakai, Stephen Brett, Ryan Crotty. The last reserve is yet to be confirmed.