Wellington - Wing Waisake Naholo was unexpectedly named in the All Blacks' Rugby World
Cup squad on Sunday after having been initially ruled out of contention
when he suffered a broken leg on his Test debut against Argentina last
Naholo sought out alternative treatment in Fiji in an
effort to make the World Cup and had said earlier he expected to be fit
for the All Blacks' third pool game against Georgia on October 2.
24-year-old joins utility Nehe Milner-Skudder, who also had a superb
Super Rugby season and impressive Test performances, in the squad.
McCaw will captain the side in his fourth World Cup as he seeks to
become the first player to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time.
and Naholo were the only surprises in an otherwise predictable squad
with coach Steve Hansen naming 17 forwards and 14 backs with the
emphasis on the backs being their versatility to cover numerous
Beauden Barrett is likely to cover flyhalf and fullback
for the side, while Colin Slade has also been picked for his
versatility ahead of Lima Sopoaga, who is a specialist flyhalf.
going to defend the World Cup, it's not ours. We have to give it
back... and we have to go out and earn it with high class, world class
performances," Hansen said at New Zealand's Parliament Buildings.
"It will be tough and I think it will be the hardest World Cup ever.
"We have picked a group of men with the experience, X-factor and mental strength to do the job.
"We have the confidence in them and we hope the 4.5 million people will get behind them."
of the debate surrounding the squad had been on the composition of the
back three with Ben Smith and Julian Savea considered certainties with
Milner-Skudder, Charles Piutau and 2011 World Cup winners Israel Dagg and
Cory Jane competing for the last two spots before Naholo's recovery.
and Dagg have been hampered by injury this season and had little chance
to prove themselves, while in Dagg's case he had not recovered the form
that had made him an automatic first choice from 2010 until last year.
chose to name six loose forwards in his squad, with Liam Messam and
Victor Vito both included after they had been considered to be competing
for one place in the mix.
Just three specialist locks, Sam
Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano, were named to accommodate
the six loose forwards in the squad.
The squad announcement, which
was broadcast live to coincide with television's main evening news
bulletins, had created enormous speculation in the ruby-mad country.
surprise, however, was mostly taken out of the naming, with several
players photographed arriving at Wellington airport or at the team hotel
earlier in the day and the images appearing on social media.
also tweeted about 45 minutes before the announcement that he was
taking his four children out for takeaway food for dinner, with his
followers replying they were sorry he missed the squad.
31-man All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad:
Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea, Malakai Fekitoa, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Ma'a Nonu, Colin Slade, Dan Carter, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow
Kieran Read, Victor Vito, Liam Messam, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Richie McCaw (captain), Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Dane Coles, Keven Mealamu, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Tony Woodcock, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks