All Blacks stick with Weepu

 

Rugby:Piri Weepu has been named by new All Blacks coach Steve Hansen in his 30-man squad for three Tests against Ireland this month. The scrumhalf ended the World Cup with a minor injury which hampered his training during the off-season and when he joined the Blues he was clearly unfit and overweight.

However, he has been included this morning ahead of Andy Ellis.

"Last year we believed in and trusted Piri Weepu and this year is no different," said selector Grant Fox. "He has got a natural feel for the game and you can't coach that."

Hansen took over from Graham Henry after last autumn's World Cup and his squad includes seven new caps for the series that begins in Auckland on Sunday.

Waikato Chiefs' prop Ben Tameifuna, flanker Sam Cane and lock Brodie Retallick all earn their first All Blacks' call ups along with Crusaders' lock Luke Romano, Highlanders half-back Aaron Smith and Hurricanes pair Beauden Barrett and Julian Savea.

Meanwhile, hooker Hika Elliot has been named as standby for the injured Keven Mealamu and Hansen believes it is important to look to the future if the All Blacks are to retain their World Cup title.

He said: "We want to prepare well for each Test. Clearly, we want to win the series. We also want to introduce young All Blacks to Test rugby. We know that what we did yesterday is not good enough for today and we have a clear goal to recapture the World Cup in 2015."

New Zealand:Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Sam Cane (Chiefs), Daniel Carter (Crusaders), Wyatt Crockett (Cusaders), Aaron Cruden (Chiefs), Israel Dagg (Crusaders), Tamati Ellison (Highlanders), Ben Franks (Crusaders), Owen Franks (Crusaders), Hosea Gear (Highlanders), Zac Guildford (Crusaders), Andrew Hore (Highlanders), Richie McCaw (c) (Crusaders), Keven Mealamu (Blues), Ma'a Nonu (Blues), Kieran Read (Crusaders), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Luke Romano (Crusaders), Julian Savea (Hurricanes), Aaron Smith (Highlanders), Ben Smith (Highlanders), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes), Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs), Adam Thomson (Highlanders), Victor Vito (Hurricanes), Piri Weepu (Blues), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders), Ali Williams (Blues), Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs), Tony Woodcock (Blues). Injury cover: Hika Elliott (Chiefs).