All Blacks captain dropped

 

Hooker Anton Oliver has been named All Blacks captain for the upcoming season, ousting Todd Blackadder.

Coach Wayne Smith is clearly looking ahead in his 30-man squad announced today as he builds for the world cup in 2003.

He has shown there is no room for sentiment by dropping Blackadder not just from the captaincy but the squad to play Samoa (June 16), Argentina (June 23) and France (June 30) before the Tri-Nations series kicks off on July 21st.

Otago star Oliver (25)faces a tough task to get the All Blacks back on line after the disappointment of failing to make the final of the 1999 World Cup and the poor form shown in last year's Tri-Nations campaign.

He is the third All Blacks captain in three seasons. Blackadder took the reins from Taine Randell last season.

Jeff Wilson, the world-class winger who took a year off from rugby last season, has been recalled despite indifferent form in the Super 12.

Among the forwards, No.8 Filo Tiatia is a notable omission while former All Black Royce Willis has been unable to force his way back into the lock position.

Squad:

Anton Oliver (captain), Christian Cullen, Leon MacDonald, Jonah Lomu, Doug Howlett, Roger Randall, Jeff Wilson, Tana Umaga, Keith Louwens, Pita Alatini, Mark Ranby, Andrew Mehrtens, Tony Brown, Justin Marshall, Byron Kelleher, Ron Cribb, Jerry Collins, Taine Randell, Scott Robertson, Marty Holah, Reuben Thorne, Mark Cooksley, Norm Maxwell, Chris Jack, Troy Flavell, Carl Hoeft, Carl Hayman, Greg Sommerville, Gordon Slater, Mark Hammett.

AFP