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Last Updated: Monday, 26 June 2006, 22:40 GMT 23:40 UK
Thorne back in All Blacks squad
Reuben Thorne (right) celebrates Crusaders' Super 14 victory with Richie McCaw
Thorne helped the Crusaders to the Super 14 title with Richie McCaw
Former All Blacks captain Reuben Thorne has been recalled to their 30-man squad for the Tri-Nations starting against Australia on 8 July.

Thorne missed recent Tests with Ireland and Argentina, and turned down an offer to captain the Junior All Blacks.

But he has been recalled at the expense of Troy Flavell and Jerome Kaino, who both appeared against Ireland.

"We have looked at other candidates, none of whom have matched Reuben's form in Super 14," said coach Graham Henry.

"Hopefully, there is a glimpse of the future in those selections but, for now, Reuben's form is the benchmark. He is a proven performer."

Thorne captained the All Blacks in 22 of his 41 Tests from 1999 to 2003 but paid the price for New Zealand's failure to win the 2003 World Cup in Australia.

I think we're a bit behind Australia at the moment

All Blacks coach Graham Henry

When that failure led to the sackings of coach John Mitchell and assistant Robbie Deans, it also seemed to have ended Thorne's Test career.

He was always a controversial selection, nicknamed "Captain Invisible" by some commentators and "Suitcase" by others who believed his team-mates were carrying him.

But he covers both blind-side flanker and lock positions and his selection indicates Henry still sees him as a possible World Cup candidate.

The rest of the squad already has a World Cup feel to it, although Henry has decisions to make at second row, centre and wing.


With South African-born Greg Rawlinson unimpressive on his debut against Ireland and Ali Williams struggling for form, Jason Eaton may be given the chance to partner Chris Jack against Australia in Christchurch a week on Saturday.

Outside centre remains a problem position after the retirement of Tana Umaga and injury to Conrad Smith, with Ma'a Nonu, youngster Isaia Toeava and the versatile Mils Muliaina the candidates.

Doug Howlett, Rico Gear, Joe Rokocoko and Scott Hamilton, who made his debut against Argentina, are competing for the wing slots.

"The competition is strong at many positions which is good for the All Blacks and good for New Zealand rugby," Henry added.

New Zealand squad:
Backs: Leon MacDonald, Mils Muliaina, Rico Gear, Doug Howlett, Joe Rokocoko, Scott Hamilton, Ma'a Nonu, Isaia Toeava, Aaron Mauger, Daniel Carter, Luke McAlister, Piri Weepu, Byron Kelleher, Jimmy Cowan.
Forwards: Anton Oliver, Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore, Carl Hayman, Greg Somerville, Neemia Tialata, Tony Woodcock, Chris Jack, Ali Williams, Jason Eaton, Greg Rawlinson, Jerry Collins, Reuben Thorne, Richie McCaw (captain), Chris Masoe, Rodney So'oialo.

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