Collins gets to captain All Blacks

CHRISTCHURCH - Jerry Collins will captain the All Blacks and there were a handful of other surprises when the biggest international squad in New Zealand rugby history was named here today for tests next month.

The 40-man squad is divided into 25 players to play in the two-test home series against Ireland, and the starting 15 to play the subsequent test against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

Coach Graham Henry has adopted this approach to keep his players fresh following the completion of the Super 14 last night.

Richie McCaw will be captain for the Ireland matches on June 10 and 17 but a surprise appointment was that of Collins as skipper for the Argentina test on June 24.

He has never led his country previously.

There are three new caps, all for the Ireland series -- Canterbury winger Scott Hamilton, North Harbour lock Greg Rawlinson and Otago prop Clarke Dermody.

A host of All Blacks not required last year have also been recalled, including Canterbury centre Casey Laulala, Waikato first five-eighth David Hill, and Auckland flankers Jerome Kaino and Troy Flavell.

Eleven players from the Ireland series will be named later to travel Argentina to boost that squad.

TEAMS

For the two tests against Ireland, in Hamilton on June 10 and Auckland on June 17 (25 players):

Backs: Mils Muliaina (Waikato), Scott Hamilton (Canterbury), Joe Rokocoko (Auckland), Doug Howlett (Auckland), Ma'a Nonu (Wellington), Casey Laulala (Canterbury), Aaron Mauger (Canterbury), Luke McAlister (Auckland), David Hill (Waikato), Byron Kelleher (Waikato), Jimmy Cowan (Southland).

Forwards: Rodney So'oialo (Wellington), Craig Newby (Otago), Richie McCaw (Canterbury, captain), Marty Holah (Waikato), Jerome Kaino (Auckland), Troy Flavell (Auckland), Ali Williams (Auckland), Greg Rawlinson (North Harbour), Carl Hayman (Otago), Neemia Tialata (Wellington), Clarke Dermody (Southland), Anton Oliver (Otago), Keven Mealamu (Auckland), Andrew Hore (Taranaki).

Starting 15 for the test against Argentina in Buenos Aires on June 24:

Backs: Leon MacDonald (Canterbury), Rico Gear (Nelson Bays), Isaia Toeava (Auckland), Sam Tuitupou (Auckland), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Waikato), Daniel Carter (Canterbury), Piri Weepu (Wellington).

Forwards: Mose Tuiali'i (Canterbury), Chris Masoe (Taranaki), Jerry Collins (Wellington, captain), Jason Eaton (Taranaki), Chris Jack (Canterbury), Greg Somerville (Canterbury), Anton Oliver (Otago), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour).

(Note: 11 players from the Ireland series will be named later to travel to Argentina)

- NZPA

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