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Page last updated at 07:12 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 08:12 UK

Nine new caps in All Blacks squad

Graham Henry
Coach Graham Henry will finalise his squad on Sunday

New Zealand have named nine uncapped players in a 25-man training squad for their forthcoming Tests against Ireland and England.

Graham Henry is without 11 players who have quit the All Blacks since last year's World Cup.

But several likely Test contenders from the Canterbury Crusaders will be added after Saturday's Super 14 final, with a final 26-man squad announced on Sunday.

New Zealand host Ireland on 7 June and then face England on 14 and 21 June.

After the disappointment of crashing out of the last World Cup in the quarter-finals, Henry's squad features a number of new faces.

The uncapped players are the Auckland Blues trio of lock Anthony Boric, centre Anthony Tuitavake and wing Rudi Wulf, the Otago Highlanders trio of lock Tom Donnelly, flanker Adam Thomson and utility back Paul Williams, plus the Waikato Chiefs trio of lock Kevin O'Neill, fly-half Stephen Donald and centre Richard Kahui.

His form had wavered and he'd be the first to agree with that

Graham Henry on Jerry Collins
Thomson, along with the Blues' Jerome Kaino and the Crusaders' Kieran Read, is one of the contenders to replace Jerry Collins in the All Blacks back row.

Collins, 27, is likely to take up a contract overseas after announcing on Monday he is quitting New Zealand rugby.

But Henry said Collins would not have been in the squad anyway because of his unimpressive form in the Super 14.

"His form had wavered and he'd be the first to agree with that," Henry said.

"I talked to him two weeks ago and said to him that it was a very competitive position and that other guys were playing better than he was at the time.

"We watched him play against the Blues for the Hurricanes and the semi-final against the Crusaders last weekend, and things didn't change a great deal in that respect."

But Henry said he did not believe his conversation with Collins had been a factor in the flanker's decision to leave New Zealand rugby.

"I think he made the decision to move on some time ago," Henry added.

The head coach also left out Hurricanes scrum-half Piri Weepu, who last played for his country last June, and flanker Chris Masoe and centre Isaia Toeava, both part of the All Blacks World Cup squad.

Jimmy Cowan of the Otago Highlanders and Brendon Leonard of the Waikato Chiefs have been named as half-backs in the squad, with the Crusaders' Andy Ellis also set to be added to the party.

New Zealand training squad:

John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Daniel Braid, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Tom Donnelly, Andrew Hore, Richard Kahui, Jerome Kaino, Sione Lauaki, Brendon Leonard, Keven Mealamu, Mils Muliaina, Ma'a Nonu, Kevin O'Neill, John Schwalger, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Conrad Smith, Rodney So'oialo, Adam Thomson, Neemia Tialata, Anthony Tuitavake, Paul Williams, Tony Woodcock, Rudi Wulf.

see also
Collins ends New Zealand career
26 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Henry named as All Blacks coach
06 Dec 07 |  Rugby Union
All Blacks loss ends Henry reign
07 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Henry proud of beaten New Zealand
06 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union

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