All Blacks tour squad announced.     18 Oct 2009    

John Afoa Auckland (20 Test caps)
Anthony Boric North Harbour (10)
Dan Carter Canterbury (62)
Jimmy Cowan Southland (28)
Wyatt Crockett Canterbury (1)
Mike Delany Bay of Plenty *
Stephen Donald Waikato (16)
Tom Donnelly Otago (1)
Jason Eaton Taranaki (13)
Andy Ellis Canterbury (11)
Tamati Ellison Wellington*
Corey Flynn Canterbury (5)
Owen Franks Canterbury (6)
Zac Guildford Hawke’s Bay *
Andrew Hore Taranaki (43)
Cory Jane Wellington (8)
Jerome Kaino Auckland (22)
Tanerau Latimer Bay of Plenty (3)
Brendon Leonard Waikato (12)
Luke McAlister North Harbour (28)
Richie McCaw Canterbury (76) – captain
Liam Messam Waikato (2)
Mils Muliaina Waikato (77)
Ma’a Nonu Wellington (42)
Kieran Read Canterbury (12)
Sitiveni Sivivatu Waikato (39)
Rodney So’oialo Wellington (60)
Ben Smith Otago *
Conrad Smith Wellington (29)
Adam Thomson Otago (12)
Brad Thorn Canterbury (33)
Neemia Tialata Wellington (37)
Tony Woodcock North Harbour (58)
* denotes new cap

The All Blacks squad features 18 forwards and 15 backs and will again be captained by Richie McCaw.

The new caps in the squad are 27-year-old Bay of Plenty first five-eighth Mike Delany, 20-year-old Hawke’s Bay winger Zac Guildford, 23-year-old Otago fullback / wing Ben Smith and 26-year-old Wellington utility back Tamati Ellison, who was assembled with the All Blacks during this year’s Investec Tri Nations, but has been officially selected in an All Blacks squad for the first time.

The versatile Ben Smith makes the All Blacks after just his third season of Air New Zealand Cup rugby. He made his debut for the Highlanders this year and also played alongside fellow All Black Owen Franks in the 2007 New Zealand Under 21 side.

The experienced Mike Delany, who also plays fullback, made his provincial debut in 2005 and his Rebel Sport Super 14 debut last year. He has played 52 matches for Bay of Plenty and is the leading points scorer in this year’s Air New Zealand Cup.

Young Zac Guildford has had a stellar season this year, playing for the Hurricanes, the world champion New Zealand Under 20 team and Hawke’s Bay, and is the leading try scorer in this year’s Air New Zealand Cup, with 13 tries.

The skilled Tamati Ellison is well-known to the All Blacks coaches, impressing during his time with the squad this year, and his ability to cover several positions has made him invaluable for his Wellington and Hurricanes teams.

The All Blacks squad also features the return of Canterbury hooker Corey Flynn, who fractured his arm on last year’s Grand Slam tour, his Canterbury teammate, halfback Andy Ellis, who suffered a rib injury on the same tour, and North Harbour lock Anthony Boric, who returned to rugby this year after a toe injury.

Players not considered for selection due to injury include: Piri Weepu (ankle); Isaia Toeava (pelvis), Lelia Masaga (shoulder), Keven Mealamu (chest), Bryn Evans (back), Richard Kahui (shoulder) and Ali Williams (Achilles).

“I would like to congratulate all those players picked, especially the new caps,” All Blacks coach Graham Henry said. “The selectors were impressed by the high standard of play in the Air New Zealand Cup and that is reflected in the selection of players who have been stand-outs in the competition.”

Henry said the All Blacks had two objectives for the tour.

“We want to play quality rugby that we are proud of The tour is also the opportunity for players to put their hand up when it comes to selection for the All Blacks for the future.

The All Blacks squad will assemble in Auckland for a training camp this week before flying out to Tokyo next Sunday 25 October. A public training and autograph session to raise funds for the Tsunami Relief Fund will be held at Trusts Stadium, Waitakere, on Wednesday at 11.00am.

Meanwhile, it was announced today that Telecom would sponsor the All Blacks tour to Japan and Europe, with the tour to be known as the All Blacks Telecom Northern Tour.

Alan Gourdie, CEO, Telecom Retail, said: “Our best wishes go to the players selected as they embark on the Telecom sponsored Northern Tour. This is a special association for us as it is the first time our new brand will make an appearance with the All Blacks, and coincides with each of the players receiving an XT Mobile so they can stay in touch with home easily in each of the five countries that they visit.”

All Blacks Telecom Northern Tour

Saturday 31 October, All Blacks vs Australia, National Olympic Stadium, Tokyo
Saturday 7 November, All Blacks vs Wales, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Saturday 14 November, All Blacks vs Italy, San Siro Stadium, Milan
Saturday 21 November, All Blacks vs England, Twickenham, London
Saturday 28 November, All Blacks vs France, Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Saturday 5 December, All Blacks vs Barbarians, Twickenham, London