Ranger and Messam dropped for Australia trip
July 19, 2010
Liam Messam has been dropped despite New Zealand's win in Wellington © Getty Images
Rene Ranger and Liam Messam make way for the returns of injured All Blacks Joe Rokocoko and Victor Vito in New Zealand's squad to face Australia in Melbourne on July 31.
Despite New Zealand's 31-17 win over South Africa in Wellington, coach Graham Henry has decided to break up a winning group to accommodate his preferred options for their first Bledisloe encounter of the season, after moving into a commanding Tri-Nations position win two wins over the Springboks on home soil.
Prop John Afoa and lock Anthony Boric also make the extended squad of 26 after watching from the stands in Wellington. Blues scrum-half Alby Mathewson will travel as cover for Piri Weepu, who is preparing for the arrival of his first child.
Ranger scored on his starting debut in Saturday's win while Messam came off the bench in that game. Rokocoko and Vito had been ruled out with hamstring and calf injuries respectively but should have time to recover while Australia battle South Africa in Brisbane this Saturday. Rokocoko started in New Zealand's previous 32-12 win in Auckland.
Some of the fringe All Blacks have also been made available to their provinces for pre-season matches ahead of the national provincial championship, to earn some valuable game time. They are Afoa (Auckland), Boric (North Harbour), Aaron Cruden (Manawatu), Israel Dagg (Hawke's Bay), Corey Flynn (Canterbury), Messam (Waikato), Ranger (Northland), Benson Stanley (Auckland) and Vito (Wellington).
New Zealand: Forwards: John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Tom Donnelly, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Kieran Read, Brad Thorn, Victor Vito, Samuel Whitelock and Tony Woodcock.
Backs: Daniel Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Mils Muliaina, Ma'a Nonu, Josevata Rokocoko, Conrad Smith, Benson Stanley and Piri Weepu