All Blacks: Donald & Gear called up

Stephen Donald may be back in an All Blacks jersey at this year's World Cup. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Stephen Donald may be back in an All Blacks jersey at this year's World Cup. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The All Blacks have called up first five-eighth Stephen Donald and winger Hosea Gear into their Rugby World Cup squad to replace injured players Mils Muliaina and Colin Slade.

Slade has been ruled out with a groin tear and Muliaina has fractured his shoulder.

Donald, who has signed a three-year contract with English club Bath, last wore the black jersey against Wales in last year's end of year tour when he come on as a reserve in a 37-25 victory.

In 22 tests he has scored 95 points. Donald is the second no.10 to be called into the squad after Manawatu's Aaron Cruden joined the team following the tournament ending groin injury suffered by first-choice first-five Dan Carter.

Gear played in this year's Tri-Nations but was dropped from the World Cup squad along with fellow winger Sitiveni Sitivatu. He's previously played eight tests for the All Blacks after making his debut in 2008 against the Wallabies in Hong Kong.

Coach Graham Henry told a press conference today that "it's just one of those things that happens".

Henry says Cruden is now the number one first-five in the squad while Piri Weepu is most comfortable at halfback and can navigate the side from there.

He said Donald was whitebaiting when he got the call-up while Gear was travelling with his family.

All Black doctor Deb Robinson says the lack of rest for players has contributed to the injury toll due to playing 10 tests in 12 weeks.

It is a bitter blow for veteran fullback Muliaina who played his 100th, and now last, test on Sunday. Muliaina played in the last two Rugby World Cups in which the All Blacks failed to reach the final on both occasions.

Muliaina broke down as he spoke of his bitter disappointment today.

"I know I won't be back," he told media.

"I'm just proud to be a kiwi and proud to be an All Black."

Muliaina, 31, has signed a two-year deal with Japanese club NTT Docomo and will start with the club next season.

Getting to 100 tests has slightly softened the blow of being out of the World Cup. He said he will miss the people the most.

"What other job can you get people out of their seats and cheering you on?"

On a positive note Henry confirmed injured duo Israel Dagg and Richard Kahui are fit for selection for Sunday's semifinal clash against Australia.

- HERALD ONLINE

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