Ranger says no to All Blacks

2013-08-04 13:46
Rene Ranger (Gallo Images)

Wellington - All Black utility back Rene Ranger has pulled out of the upcoming Rugby Championship series, citing family reasons.

The six-Test international, who is heading to France at the end of the year, said he would see out his time in New Zealand playing provincial rugby.

Although Ranger has signed to play for French side Montpellier, All Black coach Steve Hansen named the 26-year-old in his training camp ahead of announcing the championship squad on Sunday.

He said he wanted the best players to front against South Africa, Australia and Argentina regardless of their long-term availability, but said he understood Ranger's position.

"We fully understand and support him in this decision and wish him and his family all the best for the rest of the year here in New Zealand, and for their next adventure in France," Hansen said in a brief statement.

Ranger will still play for his Northland team in New Zealand's provincial championship which clashes with the Tests over the next two months.

The blockbusting runner had been in the Test wilderness since playing three internationals in 2010 but earned a recall this year for the series against France in June after an explosive Super Rugby season with the Blues.

Also missing from the All Black squad is 71-Test scrumhalf Piri Weepu with the uncapped Hurricanes player TJ Perenara joining the other incumbent scrumhalves Aaron Smith and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

As expected, regular captain Richie McCaw returns from his sabbatical after missing all of the Super Rugby series apart from playing a total of 25 minutes off the bench for the Crusaders in the playoff rounds.

All Blacks squad:

Forwards: Dane Coles (Hurricanes), Andrew Hore (Highlanders), Keven Mealamu (Blues), Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders), Charlie Faumuina (Blues), Ben Franks (Hurricanes), Owen Franks (Crusaders), Tony Woodcock (Highlanders), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Luke Romano (Crusaders), Samuel Whitelock (Crusaders), Sam Cane (Chiefs), Steven Luatua (Blues), Richie McCaw (captain) (Crusaders), Liam Messam (Chiefs), Kieran Read (Crusaders)

Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs), TJ Perenara (Hurricanes), Aaron Smith (Highlanders), Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Daniel Carter (Crusaders), Aaron Cruden (Chiefs), Ma'a Nonu (Highlanders), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes), Israel Dagg (Crusaders), Charles Piutau (Blues), Julian Savea (Hurricanes), Ben Smith (Highlanders).

The squad has been bolstered by an additional three players - Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes), Francis Saili (Blues) and Frank Halai (Blues) - who will train with the team at the start of each Test week.

Prop Joe Moody (Crusaders) has also been brought in as injury cover for Crockett who will miss the start of the Rugby Championship with a knee injury.


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