Four new caps in All Blacks squad

New All Blacks (from left) Ben Smith, Zac Guildford, Mike Delany and Tamati Ellison. Photos / Getty Images
New All Blacks (from left) Ben Smith, Zac Guildford, Mike Delany and Tamati Ellison. Photos / Getty Images

Four new caps and the return of three All Blacks from last year's team are the key talking points of the 33-man squad named today for the six match tour to Japan and Europe.

First five-eighths Mike Delany, 27, winger Zac Guilford, 20, fullback Ben Smith, 23, and utility back Tamati Ellison, 26, were included in the squad named by New Zealand coaches Graham Henry, Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen.

As was widely reported prior to today's announcement, lock Isaac Ross was left out of the squad along with wingers Joe Rokocoko and Hosea Gear and hooker Aled de Malmanche.

The All Blacks will play Australia in Tokyo on October 31 followed by tests against Wales, Italy, England and France. The tour concludes with a match against the Barbarians in London on December 6.

"I would like to congratulate all those players picked, especially the new caps," Henry said.

"The selectors were impressed by the high standard of play in the Air New Zealand Cup and that is reflected in the selection of players who have been standouts in the competition."

Delany wins his first international callup after a series of outstanding performances this season for his Bay of Plenty province. The versatile first five-eighths, who also plays at fullback, has been a member of his provincial side since 2005 and made his Super 14 debut last year for the Waikato Chiefs.

Guilford was a star of the New Zealand team which won the Under-20 Rugby World Cup this year, made his Super 14 debut for the Hurricanes, and is the top tryscorer in the National Provincial Championship with 13 tries.

Smith is in only his third season of provincial rugby and debuted in the Super 14 this year for the Highlanders but claimed All Blacks selection with a strong domestic season.

Ellison, who covers most backline positions, has been a standby member of the New Zealand squad for most of the season but has yet to make his international debut.

The All Blacks squad also features the recall from injury of hooker Corey Flynn, his Canterbury Crusaders teammate, halfback Andy Ellis, and North Harbour lock Anthony Boric.

Players not considered for selection because of injury include halfback Piri Weepu, center Richard Kahui, hooker Keven Mealamu and lock Ali Williams.

Henry said the All Blacks had two objectives for the coming tour.

"We want to play quality rugby that we are proud of," he said.

"The tour is also the opportunity for players to put their hand up when it comes to selection for the All Blacks for the future."

The squad will assemble in Auckland next week and will fly to Japan next Sunday.

All Blacks squad
John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Wyatt Crockett, Mike Delany, Stephen Donald, Tom Donnelly, Jason Eaton, Andy Ellis, Tamati Ellison, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Zac Guildford, Andrew Hore, Cory Jane, Jerome Kaino, Tanerau Latimer, Brendon Leonard, Luke McAlister, Richie McCaw (c), Liam Messam, Mils Muliaina, Ma'a Nonu, Kieran Read, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Rodney So'oialo, Adam Thomson, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata, Tony Woodcock.

Tour itinerary
October 31, v Australia, National Olympic Stadium, Tokyo.
November 8,v Wales, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
November 15, v Italy, San Siro Stadium, Milan
November 22, v England, Twickenham, London
November 29, v France, Stade Velodrome, Marseille
December 6, v Barbarians, Twickenham, London

- NZ HERALD STAFF, NZPA

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