Hansen names All Blacks squad for European tour
RUGBY DIGEST New Zealand tour NEW ZEALAND coach Steve Hansen has named two uncapped players in his squad for the world champions’ autumn European tour.
Scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow and and hooker Dane Coles have both made Hansen’s 32-man group for a schedule that features Test matches against Scotland, Italy, Wales and England.
Lock Ali Williams, meanwhile, is recalled after recovering from knee surgery, but players not considered for selection include Anthony Boric (neck), Colin Slade (leg) and Richard Kahui (shoulder).
The squad, comprising 18 forwards and 14 backs, boasts a combined cap total of 1,103 and will be led by World Cup captain Richie McCaw.
The All Blacks kick off their tour against Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday week and they are due to arrive in Edinburgh tomorrow afternoon.
“I would like to congratulate Tawera and Dane on their selection,” Hansen said. “They are young and exciting players and have shown this year that they look more than capable of stepping up to Test match rugby.
“Tours to the Northern Hemisphere always bring unique challenges, and this tour will be no different. For many of the newer players in the All Blacks it will be the first time they have experienced Test matches in the United Kingdom and Europe, and they are always big occasions.”
New Zealand, unbeaten winners of the Southern Hemisphere’s inaugural Rugby Championship this year, also tackle Italy in Rome on November 17th before facing Wales seven days later and then England at Twickenham on December 1st.
NEW ZEALAND SQUAD– Backs: I Dagg, H Gear, C Jane, B Smith, J Savea, T Ellison, M Nonu, C Smith, B Barrett, D Carter, A Cruden, T Kerr-Barlow, A Smith, P Weepu. Forwards: W Crockett, C Faumuina, B Franks, O Franks, T Woodcock, D Coles, A Hore, K Mealamu, B Retallick, L Romano, S Whitelock, A Williams, S Cane, R McCaw (capt), L Messam, K Read, A Thomson, V Vito.
Ashton to miss England’s game against Fiji
Autumn internationalsChris Ashton will miss England’s opening autumn international against Fiji after being suspended by an RFU disciplinary panel.
Ashton was banned for one week after being cited for a dangerous tackle on Northampton wing Vasily Artemyev.
The level one citing equated to an off-field yellow card, taking Ashton’s tally for the season to three and triggering an automatic disciplinary hearing.
The one-week suspension runs from November 4th specifically to include the Fiji game because Ashton was not released by England to play for Saracens this weekend.
Ashton will be available for England’s autumn Tests against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
Halavatau extends stay at the Exiles
PremiershipLondon Irish’s Tongan tighthead prop Leo Halavatau has signed a three-year contract extension, keeping him at the club until 2016. The 28-year-old has played 15 times for the Exiles, including four this term.
After spending one year in the front row at Birmingham Solihull he signed for London Irish but a calf injury has limited his playing time for the club.
“I have really enjoyed the year and a half I have spent at London Irish,” said Halavatau. “I’m thrilled to be staying on for a further three seasons.”
Evans to stay at Harlequins
PremiershipNick Evans has ended speculation about his playing future by a signing a new three-year contract with Premiership champions Harlequins.
The former New Zealand international outhalf had been a subject of intense speculation linking him with a move overseas. But Quins have announced the 32-year-old has agreed terms that will keep him at the Twickenham Stoop until 2016.
Evans joined Quins from Otago four years ago.
Loughney and Wilkinson sign
ConnachtConnacht props Ronan Loughney and Brett Wilkinson both signed two year extensions with the province yesterday.
Meanwhile, the closing date for the IRFU fundraiser draw – Your Club, Your Country – is 5pm today. Clubs taking part this season were issued with 1,000 tickets valued at €10 each which means each can raise up to €10,000 for their club. Prizes included a trip to Australia to follow the Lions and international tickets.