Henry sends players back to club rugby - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Henry sends players back to club rugby

17/07/2008 07:46:56 PM Comments (0)

All Blacks coach Graham Henry has backflipped on cotton-wooling his Test squad and taken a leaf out of new Wallabies coach Robbie Deans' book by sending players back to play club rugby.

Henry came under fire before and after last year's Rugby World Cup failure for his so-called called conditioning program, during which All Blacks stars were rested from the first half of the Super 14 competition.

Fierce rival Deans, who missed out on the New Zealand job when Henry was controversially reappointed last year, has regularly sent his fringe Wallabies back to club rugby or to the Australia A side to keep up their match fitness during this international season.

A former All Blacks official on Thursday described Henry's move as not unprecedented in New Zealand but unusual, particularly as the provincial sides are only involved in trials this weekend.

Nine All Blacks squad members have been cleared to play provincial or club rugby ahead of the Tri-Nations Test against Australia in Sydney on Saturday week.

Stephen Donald, Richard Kahui, Sione Lauaki and Kevin O'Neill were scheduled to play in Waikato's pre-season match against Japanese side Suntory on Thursday.

Flanker Chris Masoe and prop Neemia Tialata are available for Wellington's match against Otago on Friday while Tialata is also likely to turn out for his club in Wellington on Saturday.

Winger Anthony Tuitavake is cleared to play for North Harbour against Bay of Plenty on Friday, Southland will have halfback Jimmy Cowan available for Saturday's match against Canterbury and hooker Keven Mealamu is expected to play for his club in Auckland on Saturday.

The All Blacks squad regathers in Wellington on Sunday to prepare for the ANZ Stadium clash with the Wallabies.

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