Taine Randell was offered the All Blacks rugby captaincy when he met with coach John Mitchell in Dunedin earlier this week, the Dominion Post reported today.

He will lead a squad that could be missing up to 12 players from the Tri-Nations series, including Canterbury's Justin Marshall, Caleb Ralph, Aaron Mauger, Chris Jack, Richard McCaw, Reuben Thorne, and Greg Somerville and Wellington's Tana Umaga.

The touring side are likely to include Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen.

Lomu missed three weeks of the NPC with a knee injury and will start off the bench against Auckland tonight. Despite the limited match play and moderate form, Lomu is almost feared in England and is a huge drawcard in Britain.

Randell confirmed he and Mitchell had talked in Dunedin on Tuesday where it is understood he was offered the captaincy of the All Blacks to tour for one test each in England, France and Wales in November.

Thorne, who captain the All Blacks this year in the absence of the injured Anton Oliver, hasn't played any rugby since the Tri-Nations following a surgery on an ankle.

Randell and Mitchell also ironed out problems that arose during the Tri-Nations when Randell was confused about his omission from the squad that played the tests in Australia and South Africa.

They have also worked out a plan that will allow the 1999 World Cup skipper to get married in Hawke's Bay on November 2. The All Blacks fly to England on November 1, and Randell will follow on November 3.

Randell, 27, declined to comment on whether the All Black captaincy was discussed when he met with Mitchell.

"We talked about my form and he said he was happy I was doing more with the ball and with my defence, which is good.

"I would love to be the All Black captain or even in the test team, but there are issues to be worked through first in terms of the wedding."

Randell has worked out a deal with the New Zealand Rugby Football Union that will see him play for the Highlanders in next year's Super 12, but he would be released from his New Zealand contract if he did not make the All Blacks after that.

Randell will play his 81st game for Otago in tomorrow night's Ranfurly Shield challenge against Canterbury in Christchurch and his lawyer, Warren Alcock, said he had turned down offers to play overseas that "would make most people buckle at the knees".

"Taine's had more approaches than for any player I can recall. Some of them have been extremely lucrative," Alcock said earlier.

Randell's meeting with Mitchell comes after a series of meetings the All Blacks coach has had with senior players and NPC coaches.

They were told who was likely to miss the three-test tour to England, France and Wales.

Among those on the list are Canterbury inside back Mauger, who has a groin injury and may also need an operation on a hand.

Otago lock Simon Maling has been told he needs to spend some time in the gym, while Canterbury lock Jack has a knee injury and is also expected to be left behind.

Norm Maxwell will make the tour after he was sidelined for 10 weeks from the start of the Tri-Nations with a chronic hamstring injury.

Veteran first five-eighth Andrew Mehrtens will also tour along with Canterbury hooker Mark Hammett.

Hammett has a niggling knee injury but he has to go because Otago's Tom Willis (neck) and Oliver (achilles) are injured.

Most of the leading Canterbury players to miss the tour will be given time off for about a month.

Umaga has been given the option of staying behind. He is expected to decide after tonight's match against Auckland.

The 26-strong touring squad will be named at Mitchell's rugby club, Hamilton's Fraser Tech, on October 28.

- NZPA