New Zealand Rugby
Donald suffers All Blacks blow
ESPNscrum Staff
June 22, 2011

Stephen Donald's hopes of playing at this year's Rugby World Cup appear to be over after the Chiefs' fly-half was left out of the All Blacks latest training camp.

The 27-year-old Bath-bound playmaker was not included in a group of 25 players named for a two-day camp in Wellington next week. Those named are from Super Rugby teams who did not qualify for the finals play-offs, meaning Crusaders and Blues personnel are missing, but it still offers a glimpse into the New Zealand Rugby Union selectors' preferences ahead of the Tri-Nations and the World Cup.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry, who will name his squad for the Tri-Nations on July 10, revealed that Donald's lack of form had cost him. "We just think other people are playing better right now and unless we have injury he's unlikely to be involved," he said.

Hurricanes pivot Aaron Cruden and injury-plagued Highlanders No.10 Colin Slade are included in the group and, alongside the Blues' Stephen Brett, appear to be leading the chase to serve as deputy for the Crusaders' Dan Carter this season.

Slade has had limited rugby this season having broken his jaw twice but will make his return to club rugby this weekend while Henry also praised Cruden's efforts in a struggling side. "I think he's shown a lot of guts, he had an indifferent start to the year and he's got better and better so I think it shows he's got the heart for it, he's got the courage for it. He's also improved his kicking game, his kicking out of the hand has got a lot more length and he has a high percentage goal-kicking in the last six weeks."

Recently capped Chiefs hooker Aled de Malmanche and flanker Tanerau Latimer have also failed to make the training sqaud that also includes two uncapped players in Chiefs prop Ben Afeaki and Highlanders lock Jarrad Hoeata.

Hurricanes hooker Andrew Hore and centre Ma'a Nonu are named despite having recently made a high-profile exit from the Wellington-based side and will attend along with seven of their team-mates. "The camps are a key part of our preparation for the season and will give us a great opportunity to assess where a number of players are at after a demanding Super Rugby season," Henry said. "While the first All Blacks squad for the year won't be named until July 10, these players are in contention for selection so we were keen to monitor their progress as well as further develop their skills."

New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens, who recently led his side to their ninth world series title, is to conduct a training run on the second day of next week's camp. Injured trio Israel Dagg, Tony Woodcock and Isaia Toeava have been named to attend that camp, with Henry explaining that gave All Blacks medical staff the chance to assess those with injuries.

The players invited to the first camp next week:-

Chiefs: Ben Afeaki, Hikawera Elliot, Richard Kahui, Brendon Leonard, Liam Messam, Mils Muliaina and Sitiveni Sivivatu.

Hurricanes: Aaron Cruden, Hosea Gear, Andrew Hore, Cory Jane, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Neemia Tialata, Victor Vito and Piri Weepu.

Highlanders: Jimmy Cowan, Tom Donnelly, Jarrad Hoeata, Colin Slade, Ben Smith and Adam Thomson.

Injured players: Israel Dagg, Isaia Toeava and Tony Woodcock.

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