All Blacks on domestic duty
Auckland - The bulk of the All Blacks squad have been made available to play ITM Cup matches over the coming weeks, before the All Blacks end of year tour to Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
According to the allblacks.com website, the All Blacks returned to New Zealand on Sunday following their 23–22 victory over Australia in the final match of the Tri-Nations, with players spending the next few weeks at home before the 30-strong All Blacks squad for the end of year tour is announced on Sunday, October 17.
The All Blacks will play Tests on consecutive weekends against Australia (October 30), England (November 6), Scotland (November 13), Ireland (November 20) and Wales (November 27).
Seventeen players from the All Blacks squad will be available to play ITM Cup, if required by their provincial coaches, at various stages over the next few rounds.
All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said: “Many of the players, especially those in the All Blacks starting XV, have had a big year with Super 14 rugby and the Test season, while others haven’t played as much rugby. So we are taking a sensible approach in managing their workload as we prepare for the end of year tour as well as the new Super Rugby competition in 2011.”
The upcoming ITM Cup rounds and matches (with players available for selection if required in brackets) are as follows:
Waikato (Liam Messam) v Southland, Hamilton
Manawatu v Auckland (Benson Stanley), Palmerston North
Taranaki v Canterbury (Colin Slade), New Plymouth
Tasman v North Harbour (Anthony Boric), Nelson
Otago v Northland (Rene Ranger), Dunedin
Southland v Auckland (John Afoa, Benson Stanley), Invercargill
Canterbury (Corey Flynn, Colin Slade) v Wellington, Christchurch
Waikato (Liam Messam) v Tasman, Hamilton
North Harbour (Anthony Boric) v Manawatu, North Shore City
Counties Manukau v Northland (Rene Ranger), Pukekohe
Auckland (John Afoa, Benson Stanley) v Hawke’s Bay, Auckland
Northland (Rene Ranger) v Waikato (Liam Messam), Whangarei
Otago v Canterbury (Corey Flynn, Colin Slade), Dunedin
Manawatu (Aaron Cruden) v Tasman, Palmerston North
Counties Manukau v North Harbour (Anthony Boric), Pukekohe
Hawke’s Bay (Israel Dagg) v Northland (Rene Ranger), Napier
Waikato (Liam Messam) v Otago, Hamilton
Taranaki v Manawatu (Aaron Cruden), New Plymouth
Counties Manukau v Auckland (John Afoa, Joe Rokocoko, Benson Stanley), Pukekohe
Southland v Canterbury (Corey Flynn, Colin Slade), Invercargill
North Harbour (Anthony Boric) v Wellington (Victor Vito), North Shore City
Manawatu (Aaron Cruden) v Waikato (Liam Messam), Palmerston North
Tasman (Ben Franks) v Northland (Rene Ranger), Nelson
Bay of Plenty v Southland (Jimmy Cowan), Mt Maunganui
Canterbury (Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Colin Slade, Brad Thorn) v Counties Manukau, Christchurch
Wellington (Victor Vito) v Taranaki, Wellington
Auckland (John Afoa, Keven Mealamu, Joe Rokocoko, Benson Stanley) v Otago (Tom Donnelly), Auckland
Hawke’s Bay (Israel Dagg) v North Harbour (Anthony Boric, Tony Woodcock), Napier
Meanwhile, All Blacks and Waikato midfielder Richard Kahui will undergo an arthroscopy on his injured right shoulder on Wednesday.
Kahui re-injured his shoulder in his return to rugby 10 days ago playing for Waikato against North Harbour. He had been out of rugby since suffering a small fracture of his right shoulder socket in the All Blacks' opening Tri-Nations Test against the Springboks in Auckland on July 10.
All Blacks Doctor Deb Robinson said the arthroscopic procedure would examine how much damage there was to the interior of the joint and, if required, Kahui would have surgery. Alternatively, if surgery is not required, he will continue his rest and rehabilitation.
Robinson also said hooker Keven Mealamu and flyhalf Aaron Cruden are recovering from their respective injuries suffered in the weekend’s Test win over Australia.
Mealamu suffered a slight calf tear in his right leg and will be out of rugby for several weeks while Cruden sprained his left ankle early in the Test.