All Blacks call up rookie
Wellington - New Zealand on Wednesday included uncapped flyhalf Colin Slade as cover for Dan Carter in the 26-man squad to face Australia as the All Blacks seek a clean sweep in the Tri-Nations tournament.
Slade was the sole change to coach Graham Henry's all conquering squad, which has won all five of its Tri-Nations Tests this year and already claimed the southern hemisphere title.
The 22-year-old is likely to start on the bench against the Wallabies in Sydney on September 11, with Aaron Cruden promoted from the reserves to take over the playmaker role from Carter, who is recovering from ankle surgery.
Henry said Cruden would definitely be starting against Australia but Slade's domestic form for the Crusaders had earned him a place in the squad.
"Colin Slade I thought was probably the best player on the field against Auckland on Saturday, and he's been playing very well," he told reporters.
Slade said winning a cap off the bench for the All Blacks would fulfil a childhood dream.
"Every boy growing up wants to play for the All Blacks and I was no different," he told national news agency NZPA.
"Watching the teams on TV as a wee fella in the mid-90s, they were playing really well and I decided that's where I wanted to be."
Henry revealed he had not said he had not decided whether Cruden, still relatively inexperienced at Test level, would assume the goalkicking duties normally handled by superboot Carter.
"We could play (halfback) Piri Weepu and he could goalkick. He's a class goalkicker," the coach said.
"Aaron (Cruden)'s improved his goalkicking, which we saw in the weekend for Manawatu, and Israel Dagg can kick goals as well... we haven't discussed it yet."
The All Blacks squad named on Wednesday for a Tri-Nations rugby Test against Australia in Sydney on September 11:
Forwards: John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Tom Donnelly, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Kieran Read, Brad Thorn, Victor Vito, Samuel Whitelock, Tony Woodcock.
Backs: Jimmy Cowan, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Mils Muliaina, Ma’a Nonu, Rene Ranger, Josevata Rokocoko, Colin Slade, Conrad Smith, Benson Stanley, Piri Weepu.