Rugby World Cup 2011
All Blacks go for experience
Graham Henry (Gallo)
Brisbane - World number one New Zealand named their most experienced squad on Tuesday as they chase their first Rugby World Cup success in 24 years at home in next month's tournament.
The 30-man squad, named in Brisbane and which will be led by All Blacks flanker Richie McCaw, comprises 16 forwards and 14 backs.
The All Blacks, consistently ranked number one in the world, have a well-documented history of World Cup collapses which has earned them the tag of chokers on the big stage.
There is a combined 1 133 Test caps of experience in the All Blacks squad.
Along with skipper McCaw there are four others - flyhalf Daniel Carter, hooker Keven Mealamu, fullback Mils Muliaina and lock Ali Williams - who will appear in their third World Cup tournament, while another seven will be playing in their second tournament.
"It’s an incredibly exciting time for the team and a unique opportunity to represent New Zealand at home," coach Graham Henry said.
"The players will be facing the ultimate rugby challenge - playing for the most coveted trophy in world rugby, the Rugby World Cup."
Among this year's All Blacks to miss selection were wingers Hosea Gear, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Ben Smith, loose forward Liam Messam, prop Wyatt Crockett and lock Jarrad Hoeata.
"It was an incredibly difficult process. All the players who missed selection are not only outstanding players but special people," Henry said.
"This team has been selected on current form. We believe there is a good balance," he said.
"There is a blend of experienced All Blacks with nine players who have played more than 50 Tests while at the other end of the scale we have seven players who have played fewer than a dozen Tests who bring youthful enthusiasm to the side."
Auckland Blues lock Anthony Boric was chosen despite not being considered this season after a foot injury in June and will only make his return this week in a provincial match.
Wellington Hurricanes' backrower Victor Vito replaced Messam after playing only 11 minutes of the losing Test against the Springboks last weekend while Messam had been an ever-present in the All Blacks squad this season.
Henry said the Crusaders' Guildford was preferred over the other wing prospects Sivivatu and Gear because of his superior work rate and desire.
"He's probably just played with a little bit more energy than the others, a bit more desire," Henry said "Because of that energy, because of that availability, he got the nod."
The All Blacks won the inaugural World Cup at home in 1987 but have failed since then and in a major upset were dumped out by France 20-18 in the quarter-finals of the 2007 tournament in France.
The All Blacks open their World Cup campaign against Tonga at Eden Park on September 9 and are also grouped with France, Japan and Canada.
Backs - Mils
Muliaina, Israel Dagg, Isaia Toeava, Cory Jane, Zac Guildford, Conrad
Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, Richard Kahui, Daniel Carter,
Colin Slade, Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu, Andy Ellis.
Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Victor
Vito, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Ali Williams, Anthony Boric, Keven
Mealamu, Andrew Hore, Corey Flynn, Tony Woodcock, Owen Franks, Ben
Franks, John Afoa.