Wellington - All Blacks coach Graham Henry has elected to rest captain Richie McCaw and flyhalf Dan Carter for the New Zealand team's Tri-Nations match against South Africa in Port Elizabeth next week.
The All Blacks, Tri-Nations champions and favourites for the World Cup starting on September 9, would be captained by 84-Test hooker Keven Mealamu, with flyhalf Colin Slade named in the 25-man squad on Friday.
Prop John Afoa, who suffered a fractured cheekbone in the All Blacks' 40-7 trouncing of South Africa in their Tri-Nations opener, was named in a fillip for his World Cup chances, but winger Sitiveni Sivivatu was left out after fracturing an eye socket during the 30-14 rout of Australia last week.
Henry has welcomed back a raft of players from injury, including fullback Israel Dagg, utility back Isaia Toeava, centre Richard Kahui and prop Tony Woodcock.
Tom Donnelly has joined the All Blacks squad as injury cover for lock Jarrad Hoeata, who was having a scan on his injured right shoulder later on Friday.
"As with any All Blacks side, the coaches and players set high expectations and the squad which is heading to South Africa is no different," Henry said in a media release. "There is real excitement amongst the squad.
"We have players returning from injury who will be playing for the All Blacks for the first time this year, while others will be looking to take the opportunity to stake a further claim in the black jersey and ensure selection in the Rugby World Cup, so we will have a team which is hungry to play well."
Forwards: John Afoa, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Jarrad Hoeata *, Andrew Hore, Jerome Kaino, Keven Mealamu, Liam Messam, Adam Thomson, Samuel Whitelock, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock, Victor Vito.
Backs: Jimmy Cowan, Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford, Richard Kahui, Cory Jane, Ma'a Nonu, Colin Slade, Isaia Toeava, Piri Weepu, Sonny Bill Williams.
* Tom Donnelly has been named as injury cover for Hoeata.