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Rugby, Australian Football: All Blacks Drop Star Trio??

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posted on Aug, 25 2003 @ 07:20 AM
New Zealand's World Cup squad includes three surprises - full-back Ben Blair, uncapped hooker Corey Flynn and Auckland flanker Daniel Braid .

As expected, there was no place in the 30-man party for rampaging winger Jonah Lomu or the All Blacks' record points-scorer Andrew Mehrtens.

Lomu has yet to yet to return to competitive rugby after starting kidney dialysis treatment, while coach John Mitchell said he was happy with Aaron Mauger and Daniel Carter providing the back-up for fly-half Carlos Spencer.

Mitchell opted for Braid ahead of a fourth specialist lock, a move which indicated captain and blind-side flanker Reuben Thorne will act as emergency second row cover if required.

Braid toured Britain with the depleted All Blacks squad last November, while Flynn is a New Zealand Under-21 international and NZ Maori representative.

The 22-year-old got the surprise nod ahead of Tom Willis and former skipper Anton Oliver, who was dropped from the All Blacks squad ahead of the Tri-Nations.

Mitchell stuck to his plan of naming three hookers and three scrum-halves, with Byron Kelleher included as back-up for Justin Marshall and Steve Devine.

Kelleher was drafted into Mitchell's plans midway through the Tri-Nations, but Blair has seemingly been there all along.

The Canterbury full-back was included in the original 26-man Tri-Nations squad but did not play a Test as he continued his recovery from shoulder surgery.

The 30-man squad: Reuben Thorne (captain), Ben Blair, Daniel Braid, Daniel Carter, Jerry Collins, Steve Devine, Corey Flynn, Mark Hammett, Dave Hewett, Carl Hoeft, Marty Holah, Doug Howlett, Chris Jack, Byron Kelleher, Leon MacDonald, Aaron Mauger, Richard McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Malili Muliaina, Justin Marshall, Kees Meeuws, Ma'a Nonu, Caleb Ralph, Joe Rokocoko, Rodney So'oialo, Greg Somerville, Carlos Spencer, Brad Thorn, Tana Umaga, Ali Williams.

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