Rugby: Collins would not have made All Blacks - Henry

Former All Blacks rugby enforcer Jerry Collins would not have been selected for the upcoming tests against Ireland and England, according to head coach Graham Henry.

Collins yesterday announced his retirement from the sport in New Zealand.

Despite being warmly praised for a decade of sterling service it emerged today the 48-test veteran would not have featured in Henry's 26-man squad to be named in Christchurch on Sunday.

Henry said the 27-year-old's form for the Hurricanes did not warrant his inclusion in the squad to prepare for a one-off test against Ireland in Wellington on June 7 and two subsequent matches after World Cup runnersup England.

Henry agreed with Collins' decision to seek a release from his New Zealand Rugby Union contract a year before it expired in order to take a break from the game.

Collins is expected to ultimately join the exodus to Europe although he insists he currently has no firm plans.

Although a mainstay of the All Blacks in recent years, Henry admitted Collins had initially been overtaken by Crusaders loose forward Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino of the Blues.

"I think it's the correct decision (for Collins to retire)," Henry told Radio Sport today.

"He wouldn't have got in the All Blacks in this first selection anyway.

"His form had wavered and he'd be the first to agree with that.

"I talked to him two weeks ago and said to him that it (blindside) was a very competitive position and that other guys were playing better than he was at the time.

"We watched him play against the Blues for the Hurricanes and the semifinal against the Crusaders last weekend and things didn't change a great deal in that respect.

"He was battling to make the side but I don't think that was part of his decision. I think he made the decision to move on some time ago."

Kaino is among a 25-man training group who met in Auckland today while Otago loose forward Adam Thompson has also been included after a strong campaign with the battling Highlanders.

Read is sure to come into calculations providing he emerges from the Super 14 final against the Waratahs on Saturday unscathed.

All Blacks training squad:
John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Daniel Braid, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Tom Donnelly, Andrew Hore, Richard Kahui, Jerome Kaino, Sione Lauaki, Brendon Leonard, Keven Mealamu, Mils Muliaina, Ma'a Nonu, Kevin O'Neill, John Schwalger, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Conrad Smith, Rodney So'oialo, Adam Thomson, Neemia Tialata, Anthony Tuitavake, Paul Williams, Tony Woodcock, Rudi Wulf.

- NZPA

- Newstalk ZB

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