Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Blues name All Black George Moala for Global 10s

George Moala of the Blues makes a break. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz
George Moala of the Blues makes a break. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz

The Blues' chances in the inaugural Brisbane Global 10s rugby tournament have been lifted by the presence of George Moala, the only current All Black in the squad.

The 26-year-old midfielder, who suffered an elbow injury in his last test - the defeat to Ireland in Chicago in early November - is one of three current All Blacks named to play in the tournament which also features the five Australian Super Rugby teams, plus Samoa, South Africa's Bulls, Toulon from France and Japan's Wild Knights.

The others are Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman, who also went on the northern tour with Steve Hansen's men, and Hurricanes wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, who would have been a part of Hansen's squad but for his shoulder injury suffered early last year.

New Crusaders midfielder Seta Tamanivalu, who played three tests last year but didn't make the cut for the November tour, has been named, as has former All Blacks Cory Jane, Liam Messam, Hika Elliot, Luke Whitelock, Brad Weber and Rene Ranger.

The five New Zealand squads for the tournament to be held at Suncorp Stadium on February 11-12 were named late this afternoon.

The naming of Moala is a boost for the Blues, who will also be bolstered by outside back Ranger as he returns from a serious knee injury suffered last year, but the franchise is clearly taking a cautious approach to a tournament which hit a public relations hiccup a week ago when the Herald revealed no frontline All Blacks would be made available despite several being used to market the event.

Head coach Tana Umaga will not travel with the squad, rather, forwards coach Steve Jackson will assume control following his success with the Blues at the 2015 World Club 10s in Singapore.

All Blacks Jerome Kaino and Rieko Ioane have not been made available due to their 12-week stand-down as set down by the players' collective, with Steven Luatua a scratching due to injury. Kaino was one of the All Blacks used extensively by tournament organisers Duco Events to market the event, as was Damian McKenzie and Israel Dagg. Neither McKenzie nor Dagg will play, although Crusaders fullback Dagg will travel as an ambassador.
Crusaders and All Blacks lock Luke Romano was a late scratching due to injury.

For the Blues, there is no Akira Ioane, an absence which will disappoint those who were looking forward to his destructive running following his deeds for the New Zealand sevens team last year. Other top Blues' players likely to have made a successful transition from 15s to the shorter version of the game but who have not been selected are Ihaia West, Piers Francis, Blake Gibson, Melani Nanai, Augustine Pulu and Jimmy Tupou.

Loose forward Ioane, and the others, are likely to have been ring-fenced by Umaga as crucial to his team's early-season hopes. The Blues begin their season on February 23 against the Rebels in Melbourne.

The TAB have installed the Hurricanes as favourites for the event, but the Blues have the ability to surprise. Included in their squad is New Zealand Maori flanker Kara Pryor, plus New Zealand sevens squad members Murphy Taramai, Ambrose Curtis and Declan O'Donnell.

"We have had some experience with 10s and believe it offers more to us as a preparation for the Super Rugby competition than sevens," coach Jackson said.
"The 10s game has more structure like 15s and involves players in all positions - tight forwards, loosies, inside backs, outside backs. But there is the space for exciting open running rugby like sevens."


BLUES
Josh Goodhue, Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a, Tom Robinson, Sam Prattley, Kara Pryor, Marcel Renata, Brandon Nansen, Joe Royal, Scott Scrafton, Murphy Taramai, Ambrose Curtis, Matt Duffie, Pasqualle Dunn, Billy Guyton, George Moala, Sam Nock, Declan O'Donnell, Stephen Perofeta, Rene Ranger, Jordan Trainor, Matt Vaega

CRUSADERS
Tim Perry, Mike Alaalatoa],Oli Jager, Quinten Strange, Chiris Gawler, Mitchell Dunshea, Peter Samu, Jed Brown, Leon Fukofuka, Marty McKenzie, Bryn Hall, Tim Bateman, David Havilli, Jack Goodhue, George Bridge, Andrew Makalio, Seta Tamanivalu, Ben Funnell, Whetu Douglas, Mitchell Hunt, Digby Ioane, Sione Fifita ,Manasa Mataele, Sean Wainui, Jordan Taufua

HIGHLANDERS
Aki Seiuli, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Liam Coltman, Josh Dickson, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, James Lentjes, Craig Millar, Dillon Hunt, Gareth Evans, Luke Whitelock ©, Kayne Hammington, Josh Renton, Fletcher Smith, Tei Walden, Rob Thompson, Jason Emery, Tevita Li, Matt Faddes, Sio Tomkinson, Marty Banks.

CHIEFS
Liam Messam, Hikawera Elliott, Sigfreid Fisi'ihoi, Liam Polwart, Atunaisa Moli, Sam Cair, Findlamor Hoeata, Brad Weber, Joseva Rauvouvou, Findlay Christie, Tim Nanai Williams, Sheldon Tovio, Sevu Reece, Jonathon Taumateine, Shaun Stevenson, Solomon Alaimalo, Alex Nankivel, Dwayne Sweeney, Sosefo Kautai, Taleni Seu, Mitchell Brown, Luteru Laulala, Latu Vaeno, Luke Jacobson, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Graham.

HURRICANES
Nehe Milner-Skudder, Cory Jane, Reg Goodes, Loni Uhila, Ricky Riccitelli, Asafo Aumua, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, Joe Apikotoa, Vaea Fifita, Mark Abbott, James Blackwell, Brad Shields, Reed Prinsep, Toa Halafihi, Hugh Renton, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Kemera Hauiti-Parapara, Otere Black, Vince Aso, Matt Proctor, Wes Goosen, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Ngani Laumape, Jonah Lowe, Jordie Barrett.

- NZ Herald

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