WELLINGTON - The players selected for the All Blacks' end-of-season tour have an opportunity to cement themselves in the selectors' thinking for the 2011 World Cup, coach Graham Henry said yesterday.
Henry named a 33-man squad for the six-match tour to Japan and Europe, including four new caps and recalling three players who had been out of the team with long-term injuries.
Outside backs Ben Smith, Zac Guildford and Tamati Ellison plus flyhalf Mike Delaney are the uncapped players, while hooker Corey Flynn, lock Anthony Boric and scrumhalf Andy Ellis were all recalled after recovering.
"This has been a difficult side to select," Henry said."There are a lot of good players who haven't been selected and they will be disappointed.
"This tour is very much about selection going forward. There is a small eye for the rugby World Cup (and) we have got to make sure our selections are right.
"There are probably 10 guys who are injured and there are a number of very good guys who have been left behind who have the opportunity to come back. It's important these guys (selected) cement themselves in this team going forward and to do that they have to play."
Veteran winger Joe Rokocoko has been dropped, while lock Isaac Ross was left out to work on his physical condition. Scrumhalf Piri Weepu needs ankle surgery. - Reuters