Cancer survivor among four new Kiwi caps - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cancer survivor among four new Kiwi caps

30/05/2010 01:29:51 PM Comments (0)

Aaron Cruden completed a fairy-tale recovery from cancer when he was included among four new caps in a revamped All Blacks side named Sunday for Tests next month against Ireland and Wales.

A raft of injuries among seasoned All Blacks forced the selectors to cast their net wide when cobbling together a 26-man squad that includes three players still on the injured list.

The All Blacks have never lost to either Ireland or Wales, and a high injury toll in the Super 14 forced the selectors to strike a balance between new blood and using players who are experienced but not fully fit.

Head coach Graham Henry admitted his preferred squad changed multiple times in the lead-up to the announcement deadline.

The inclusion of the 21-year-old flyhalf Cruden was the biggest surprise among the newcomers who also include flanker Victor Vito, inside centre Benson Stanley and fullback Israel Dagg.

Cruden has made a meteoric comeback since he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2008.

He had one testicle removed and underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy before being medically cleared. A year later he captained New Zealand to claim the World Under 20 title, and picked up the IRB Junior Player of the Year title.

This year he continued his form in his rookie Super 14 season to earn his call-up as Dan Carter's understudy in the crucial No.10 jersey.

Among the other new caps Vito, 23, has been earmarked as a potential All Black ever since he drew comparisons with the great Jonah Lomu when he burst on to the international scene with the New Zealand Sevens team two years ago.

Stanley, a nephew of former international centre Joe Stanley, earns his All Blacks jersey following injuries to the experienced Ma'a Nonu and Isaia Toeava.

Other players not considered because of injury include flyhalves Mike Delany and Stephen Donald, locks Jason Eaton and Ali Williams, hooker Andrew Hore and wing Sitiveni Sivivatu.

"We have picked the best team available," Henry said of his squad which includes the still injured Mils Muliaina, Tom Donnelly and Richard Kahui.

"It has been a difficult selection. The players we thought might have been available at the beginning of the Super 14 were not available at the end.

"The reality is we're playing Ireland in two weeks' time and we have a week to prepare. We know what the challenges are and we have to do the job."

The Crusaders, the only New Zealand team to make the Super 14 play-offs this year, provide the bulk of the forwards with five of the 14 players named including captain Richie McCaw.

All Blacks squad:

Backs: Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford, Cory Jane, Richard Kahui, Mils Muliaina, Joe Rokocoko, Conrad Smith, Benson Stanley, Piri Weepu.

Forwards: Anthony Boric, Aled de Malmanche, Tom Donnelly, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (capt), Keven Mealamu, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata, Victor Vito, Tony Woodcock.

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