All Blacks named for 2010 BackingBlack Tour     18 Oct 2010    

All Blacks Coach Graham Henry and his Assistant Coaches Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith have named their squad for the All Blacks Telecom BackingBlack Tour to Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Ireland, with the selection of new All Black Sonny Bill Williams and the return of several players the key features of the 30-man squad.

The All Blacks squad (with province and Test caps in brackets) is:


John Afoa Auckland (25)
Anthony Boric North Harbour (16)
Daniel Braid Auckland (4)
Tom Donnelly Otago (13)
Hikawera Elliot Hawke’s Bay (0)
Ben Franks Tasman (7)
Owen Franks Canterbury (17)
Andrew Hore Taranaki (47)
Jerome Kaino Auckland (33)
Richie McCaw (capt) Canterbury (89)
Keven Mealamu Auckland (80)
Liam Messam Waikato (5)
Kieran Read Canterbury (25)
Brad Thorn Canterbury (46)
Samuel Whitelock Canterbury (8)
Tony Woodcock North Harbour (69)


Andy Ellis Canterbury (14)
Daniel Carter Canterbury (74)
Jimmy Cowan Southland (41)
Stephen Donald Waikato (19)
Hosea Gear Wellington (2)
Cory Jane Wellington (20)
Alby Mathewson Wellington (1)
Mils Muliaina Waikato (89)
Ma’a Nonu Wellington (52)
Josevata Rokocoko Auckland (66)
Sitiveni Sivivatu Waikato (43)
Conrad Smith Wellington (41)
Isaia Toeava Auckland (26)
Sonny Bill Williams Canterbury *

* new All Black

The squad, which boasts 972 Test caps between them, is made up of 16 forwards and 14 backs and will again be captained by 89-Test All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

All Blacks Coach Graham Henry offered his congratulations to all players selected, especially new All Black Sonny Bill Williams, as well as Hikawera Elliot and Alby Mathewson, who have appeared for the All Blacks before, but are today officially picked for the first time in an All Blacks squad.

“It’s always a magic moment for any New Zealand rugby player when they are picked for the All Blacks so congratulations to those guys.”

25-year-old Williams has been in dynamic form since making his New Zealand rugby debut this year for Canterbury in the ITM Cup, with his quick offloads and immense strength proving invaluable. The midfielder started his career as a rugby league player in the NRL competition, and has also played alongside former All Blacks captain, now Counties-Manukau ITM Cup Assistant Coach, Tana Umaga at French rugby club Toulon from 2008 to 2010.

The squad also features the return of a number of players who have donned the All Blacks jersey in recent years, including Auckland loose forward Daniel Braid, who returned to New Zealand provincial rugby this year after a stint with the Queensland Reds in 2009-2010; Wellington winger Hosea Gear, who, together with fellow All Black Liam Messam, won a gold medal with the New Zealand Sevens team at the recent Delhi Commonwealth Games; Waikato first five-eighth Stephen Donald, who has delivered strong performances in the ITM Cup in recent weeks; Canterbury halfback Andy Ellis, who toured with the All Blacks on last year’s Telecom Northern Tour; and Auckland utility back Isaia Toeava, who recently returned to rugby after undergoing hip surgery.

Elliot is one of three hookers in the squad, which also includes Taranaki’s Andrew Hore, who hasn’t played since dislocating his shoulder in the Rebel Sport Super 14 in May. Hore is expected to be fit to return to rugby on the Home Unions leg of the tour.

Winger Sitiveni Sivivatu, another experienced player who is due to return to rugby after shoulder surgery, is also back in the All Blacks and set to turn out for his Waikato provincial side over the next two weeks and join the All Blacks squad following the Test in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, All Blacks playmaker Daniel Carter also returns to the All Blacks squad after missing the last Investec Tri Nations Test against Australia to undergo ankle surgery.

Players not considered for selection due to injury include: Israel Dagg (quadricep), Corey Flynn (calf), Richard Kahui (shoulder), Luke McAlister (jaw), Piri Weepu (ankle) and Ali Williams (Achilles).

Graham Henry added: “Regarding the make-up of the touring squad, we feel that we have got a very good rugby squad, well lead by some very experienced All Blacks, and we are excited by the challenges that we have ahead of us.”

Henry said the key focus for the All Blacks, who are undefeated in nine Tests this year, would be to further develop their game on the Tour.
“We are playing top-quality teams on this Tour, starting with Australia in Hong Kong, and it’s important that we make continual improvements to our game to stay ahead of the opposition,” he said.

All Blacks Telecom BackingBlack Tour

Saturday 30 October, All Blacks v Australia, Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
Saturday 6 November, All Blacks v England, Twickenham, London
Saturday 13 November, All Blacks v Scotland, Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Saturday 20 November, All Blacks v Ireland, AVIVA Stadium, Dublin
Saturday 27 November, All Blacks v Wales, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff