New Zealand coach Graham Henry announced 29 of his Rugby World Cup squad on Sunday. He has left the door open for prop Greg Somerville who has been given another three weeks to prove his fitness following Achilles tendon surgery. Richie McCaw as expected retains the captaincy but we did not see him dropping Piri Weepu and Troy Flavell in favour of Andy Ellis and loose forward Sione Lauaki. The 29 man squad was made up of 15 forwards and 14 backs but presuming Somerville comes through will be the same split as South Africa, 16 forwards and 14 backs in the 30 man squad.
The All Blacks still remain favourites to win the World Cup after retaining the Tri-Nations title on Saturday with a 26-12 win over Australia in Auckland. They open their campaign against Italy on the 8th September and also meet Romania, Portugal and Scotland in their pool games, none of whom should pose and threat. The only interesting thing will be who comes second in the pool.
New Zealand World Cup squad:
Backs: Mils Muliaina, Leon MacDonald, Doug Howlett, Joe Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Isaia Toeava, Conrad Smith, Luke McAlister, Aaron Mauger, Daniel Carter, Nick Evans, Byron Kelleher, Brendon Leonard, Andrew Ellis.
Forwards: Rodney So’oialo, Chris Masoe, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerry Collins, Sione Lauaki, Reuben Thorne, Ali Williams, Chris Jack, Keith Robinson, Carl Hayman, Neemia Tialata, Tony Woodcock, Anton Oliver, Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore.