Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: It's show time for Crockett

Crusader to start for All Blacks following Super final after Woodcock sidelined by injury.

Wyatt Crockett's work this season with the Crusaders has won the approval of the All Blacks selectors. Photo / Getty Images
Wyatt Crockett's work this season with the Crusaders has won the approval of the All Blacks selectors. Photo / Getty Images

Wyatt Crockett's work-load is about to ramp up even more with a Super Rugby final then a starting role for the All Blacks in their world-record winning quest.

The loosehead prop is primed to make twin visits to Sydney in the next fortnight as part of the Crusaders' challenge for the tournament title then for the start of the Rugby Championship in place of the injured Tony Woodcock.

Woodcock has damaged his shoulder and while he was picked in the latest All Black squad, coach Steve Hansen confirmed he would miss the start of the series because of injury.

Crockett, with 27 tests, is rated the next best loosehead in the country and his deputy at the Crusaders, Joe Moody, has been picked in the squad as cover.

This weekend Crockett should square off against the Waratahs' Sekope Kepu and that duel could be repeated on August 16 in Sydney when the All Blacks return for the start of the Rugby Championship-Bledisloe Cup series.

Three of Crockett's teammates at the Crusaders have missed out in the squeeze for All Black berths.

Colin Slade, Ryan Crotty and Matt Todd have been cut from a 31-man squad and make way for Daniel Carter, Charles Piutau and Sam Cane who have recovered from injury.

Not so fortunate was Hurricanes loose forward Victor Vito, who has succumbed to neck and calf injuries and the resurgent claims from Steven Luatua who covers loose-forward and lock.

The selectors have picked three five-eighths but again restricted themselves to two hookers - Keven Mealamu and Dane Coles - because they cannot settle on the next best. The All Blacks, minus the Crusaders, will hold a camp in North Harbour this week. Next week, the All Blacks will be involved in a game with Northland and North Harbour as preparation for the resumption of their test programme.

"The Rugby Championship gives us the next opportunity to see where we are at and it doesn't get much bigger than back-to-back Bledisloe Cup tests to kick it off," Hansen said.

"It's going to be another tense competition. South Africa and Australia are ranked second and third in the world and both had successful June test series while Argentina will again bring the physicality and passion which we know they are renowned for."

All Blacks squad

Forwards
Hookers: Dane Coles, Hurricanes (18 caps), Keven Mealamu, Blues (113)
Props: Wyatt Crockett, Crusaders (27), Charlie Faumuina, Blues (20), Ben Franks, Hurricanes (31), Owen Franks, Crusaders (57), Tony Woodcock, Blues (110).
Locks: Dominic Bird, Crusaders (1), Brodie Retallick, Chiefs (27), Patrick Tuipulotu, Blues (2), Samuel Whitelock, Crusaders (54).
Loose forwards: Sam Cane, Chiefs (14), Jerome Kaino, Blues (51), Steven Luatua, Blues (11), Richie McCaw (c), Crusaders (127), Liam Messam, Chiefs (32), Kieran Read, Crusaders (62).

Backs
Halfbacks: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Chiefs (14), TJ Perenara, Hurricanes (3), Aaron Smith, Highlanders (29).
First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett, Hurricanes (19), Daniel Carter, Crusaders (100), Aaron Cruden, Chiefs (32).
Midfielders: Malakai Fekitoa, Highlanders (2), Ma'a Nonu, Blues (91). Conrad Smith, Hurricanes (77).
Outside backs: Israel Dagg, Crusaders (39), Cory Jane, Hurricanes (48), Charles Piutau, Blues (10), Ben Smith, Highlanders (29), Julian Savea, Hurricanes (22).

- NZ Herald

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 28 Dec 2014 04:56:31 Processing Time: 22ms