Talismanic captain Richie McCaw leads a raft of reinforcements named yesterday in a 30-man All Blacks squad selected for the Tri-Nations series.
McCaw, along with Rodney So’oialo, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Dan Carter, all sidelined by injury, were key players missing when the All Blacks stumbled their way through their opening Tests of the year against France and Italy.
However, with the exception of Carter, they have been cleared for the Tri-Nations series that opens on July 18 when the All Blacks play Australia in Auckland.
The All Blacks squad also includes the return of two former internationals, Jason Eaton and Hosea Gear, while back-row Liam Messam, who started in the first Test against France which the All Blacks lost, is a notable omission.
Wing Lelia Masaga, brought into the squad when Rudi Wulf was injured before the first French Test, has also missed the cut.
After the All Blacks struggled to square the two-Test series against France and posted their second-lowest score against Italy, coach Graham Henry was under no illusions how challenging the Tri-Nations will be.
“It’s going to be a huge contest right from the first Test,” he said when naming the squad. “But this group of players has the resolve and the character to meet that challenge head on, so we are expecting it to be another massive competition between the three top-ranked countries in world rugby.”
The All Blacks have retained Owen Franks in the squad, after he was classified as being on standby in the early Tests, to give them five props. It also means a split of 17 forwards and 13 backs.
Meanwhile, the All Blacks injury woes continue with center Isaia Toeava likely to miss the early Tri-Nations Tests because of a stress fracture in his left foot and Stephen Donald is still struggling with a hamstring strain.
Players not considered because of injury include lock Ali Williams, wing Wulf, flanker Adam Thomson, center Richard Kahui, lock Anthony Boric, halfback Andy Ellis, hooker Corey Flynn, flanker Scott Waldrom and flyhalf Carter.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017