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Crusaders trio miss out on AB's squad

Steve Hanson_Kyle ABs
TOUGH DECISION: All Blacks coach and selector Steve Hanson names the 31-man All Black squad for next month’s Rugby Championship.
Photo: Kyle Knowles.

By Kyle Knowles

Despite being in the Super Rugby final this weekend and winning the New Zealand conference, three Crusaders have missed out on the All Blacks squad named today in Christchurch.

Ryan Crotty, Matt Todd and Colin Slade have been left out of the 31-man squad by selectors Steve Hansen, Grant Fox and Ian Foster.

Crotty and Todd lost out to Blues fullback Charles Piutau and Chiefs flanker Sam Cane who were missing from the England series in June because of injuries.

Hansen said the selection of Cane over Todd was a particularly tough decision.

“We know Matt’s done a great job for us, but we still believe Sam Cane is a better player.”

Slade makes way for the return of Dan Carter, who was on sabbatical for the series against England earlier in the year.

Since his return, Carter has played at second-five eighth for the Crusaders but Hansen said he would not be playing there for the All Blacks unless Ma’a Nonu was injured.

“I’ve got no problem with him playing second-five for the Crusaders because that is the best place for him to play in that team.”

The irresistible form of Malakai Fekitoa  for the Highlanders and Piutau’s return from injury pushed Crusaders vice–captain Crotty out of the squad. Hansen has opted for the more versatile Piutau who can cover a number of positions in the back-line.

Crusaders prop Joe Moody is in line to make his All Blacks debut after being called into the squad as cover for Blues prop Tony Woodcock, who  will miss the start of the Rugby Championship with a shoulder injury.

Moody was named in the All Blacks squad late last year but missed out on the opportunity when he suffered a broken ankle in the final of the ITM Cup.

The All Blacks play two warm up games against North Harbour and Northland in Auckland on August 8 before starting the Rugby Championship against Australia in Sydney on August 16.

All Blacks named for Rugby Championship:

Forwards: Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, Dominic Bird, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Steven Luatua, Richie McCaw (Captain), Liam Messam, Kieran Read; Injury cover: Joe Moody.

Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Daniel Carter, Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Isreal Dagg, Cory Jane, Charles Piutau, Ben Smith, Julian Savea.