McCaw, Faumuina back in All Blacks plans

GREG STUTCHBURY
Last updated 09:09 29/07/2013
Richie McCaw
Getty Images
MCCAW BACK: World Cup winning captain Richie McCaw has predictably been brought back immediately into the All Blacks setup.

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World Cup winning captain Richie McCaw has predictably been brought back immediately into the All Blacks setup after his return from a seven-month break from rugby as New Zealand begin their preparations for next month's Rugby Championship.

The 32-year-old McCaw was included in a preliminary 30-man training squad on Monday for a two-day camp in Auckland this week as the All Blacks build up to their first match in the southern hemisphere competition against Australia in Sydney on Aug. 17.

McCaw took a six-month sabbatical from all rugby until June 30. He has played only one match of lower-level club rugby and made two cameo appearances off the bench for his Super Rugby side the Canterbury Crusaders since his return to the field.

Local media reported on Monday he had experienced some soreness in his neck after he played 13 minutes for the Crusaders in their tense 20-19 semi-final loss to the Waikato Chiefs on Saturday.

That soreness meant he was only likely to play again in the All Blacks' training games against the Wellington and Canterbury provincial teams in Wellington on Aug. 9, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Tighthead prop Charlie Faumuina was also brought back into the training squad after he missed most of the Super Rugby season and the All Blacks June tests against France with a calf injury.

None of the Waikato Chiefs players were included in the squad as they prepare to host the Super Rugby final against the ACT Brumbies on Saturday in Hamilton.

Coach Steve Hansen is to name his final squad on Sunday for the Rugby Championship against the Wallabies, South Africa and Argentina.

Chiefs players Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Messam, Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick and Ben Afeaki all played against France and are expected to be included in that squad.

All Blacks squad:

Backs - Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea, Ben Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, Conrad Smith, Beauden Barrett, Daniel Carter, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Piri Weepu.

Forwards - Steven Luatua, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Brad Shields, Matt Todd, Victor Vito, Luke Romano, Jeremy Thrush, Samuel Whitelock, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, Dane Coles, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu.

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Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?

Dane Coles

Nathan Harris

Keven Mealamu

Wyatt Crockett

Charlie Faumuina

Ben Franks

Owen Franks

Joe Moody

Brodie Retallick

Luke Romano

Jeremy Thrush

Patrick Tuipulotu

Sam Whitelock

Sam Cane

Jerome Kaino

Richie McCaw

Liam Messam

Kieran Read

Vitor Vito

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