Less than two weeks before the 2011 Tri-Nations Series, probably the last one before turning into a four team tournament next year (Argentina joining), Robbie Deans (Australia), Peter de Villiers (South Africa) and Graham Henry (New Zealand) have named their squads for the Tri-Nations.
Australia – Wallabies
Last October, Australia managed to break a 10 game losing streak against the All-Blacks on the last play of their post Tri-Nations match in Hong Kong. Bolstered by 15 players from the Queensland Reds, the newly crowned Super Rugby Champions after beating the Crusaders 18-13, Robbie Dean is optimistic regarding the Wallabies’ chances this year. Mind you, Australia haven’t won the tournament since 2001. Robbie Deans – In terms of the players who are currently on the sidelines, we won’t be rushing any of them. But we need to get them all started, in terms of being exposed to all of the detail, as part of our preparation. That’s one of the reasons why we have opted for an enlarged squad at this point. Australia have the biggest squad coming into the series, naming 40 players.
Backs– Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs, 51 caps), Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels, 14), Luke Burgess (Waratahs, 32), Quade Cooper (Reds, 24), Rod Davies (Reds), Anthony Faingaa (Reds, 4), Will Genia (Reds, 22), Mark Gerrard (Melbourne Rebels, 23), Matt Giteau (Toulon, 91), Digby Ioane (Reds, 11), Pat McCabe (Brumbies, 1), Luke Morahan (Reds), James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels, 27), Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels), Lachie Turner (Waratahs, 14).
Forwards – Ben Alexander (Brumbies, 24), Ben Daley (Reds, 3), Dave Dennis (Waratahs), Rocky Elsom (Brumbies, 64), Saia Faingaa (Reds, 11), James Hanson (Reds), Scott Higginbotham (Reds, 1), Matt Hodgson (Western Force, 4), James Horwill (Reds, 24), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs, 3), Salesi Ma’afu (Brumbies, 10), Ben McCalman (Western Force, 9), Stephen Moore (Brumbies, 55), Dean Mumm (Waratahs, 33), Wycliff Palu (Waratahs, 36), David Pocock (Western Force, 30), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs, 25), Beau Robinson (Reds), Benn Robinson (Waratahs, 42), Radike Samo (Reds, 6), Nathan Sharpe (Western Force, 93), Rob Simmons (Reds, 6), James Slipper (Reds, 14), Sitaleki Timani (Waratahs), Dan Vickerman (Waratahs, 54).
New Zealand – The All Blacks
The tune up to the World Cup, the All Blacks’ main goal this year, is filled with Crusaders and the rest. Graham Henry’s side is filled with veterans and proven play makers at this level, going undefeated in the 2010 series, losing only once in a test match since September 2009. Graham Henry – We are excited to be naming this first squad of the year in what is undoubtedly a huge year not only for the All Blacks but the country as a whole. Our first Test against Fiji in Dunedin will be an important first step in our season, plus there’s extra significance because we are playing for the people of Canterbury. The thoughts of the team are still with the folk of Canterbury as they try to rebuild their lives so we hope we see as many fans as possible at Carisbrook for this fundraising match.
Backs – Daniel Carter (Crusaders, 79), Jimmy Cowan (Highlanders, 44), Israel Dagg (Crusaders, 6), Andy Ellis (Crusaders, 18), Hosea Gear (Hurricanes, 6), Zac Guildford (Crusaders, 4), Richard Kahui (Chiefs, 11), Mils Muliaina (Chiefs, 94), Ma’a Nonu (Hurricanes, 56), Colin Slade (Highlanders, 1), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes, 45), Isaia Toeava (Blues, 30), Piri Weepu (Hurricanes, 44), Sonny Bill Williams (Crusaders, 4)
Forwards – John Afoa (Blues, 30) Corey Flynn (Crusaders, 12), Ben Franks (Crusaders, 7), Owen Franks (Crusaders, 22), Jarrad Hoeata (Highlanders), Andrew Hore (50), Jerome Kaino (Blues, 37), Richie McCaw (Crusaders, 94), Keven Mealamu (Blues, 83), Liam Messam (Chiefs, 6), Kieran Read (Crusaders, 30), Adam Thomson (Highlanders, 17), Brad Thorn (Crusaders, 50), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders, 13), Ali Williams (Blues, 61), Tony Woodcock (Blues, 74).
South Africa – Springboks
The 2007 World Champions had an abysmal showing in the 2010 series, winning only one home game against Australia. They haven’t beaten New Zealand in nearly two years, and will have a rough away start to the tournament again, playing their first two matches in Sydney and Wellington. De Villiers has 5 players who were on the 2007 World Cup winning side, but his selection has been criticized for being a resting opportunity for the side’s top talent ahead of the World Cup.
Backs – Gio Aplon (Stormers, 13), Bjorn Basson (Bulls, 4), Juan de Jongh (Stormers, 6), Adrian Jacobs (Sharks, 32), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Patrick Lambie (Sharks, 4), Charl McLeod (Sharks), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks, 2), Odwa Ndungane (Sharks, 7), Wynand Olivier (Bulls, 32), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster, 47), Morne Steyn (Bulls, 25).
Forwards – Heinrich Brüssow (Cheetahs, 13), Jean Deysel (Sharks, 1), Dean Greyling (Bulls), Alistair Hargreaves (Sharks, 2), Ryan Kankowski (Sharks, 17), Werner Kruger (Bulls), Ashley Johnson (Cheetahs), Johann Muller (Sharks, 23), Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Bulls, 18), Danie Rossouw (Bulls, 54), John Smit (Sharks, 102), Deon Stegmann (Bulls, 4), Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs, 9), Flip van der Merwe (Bulls, 10).