Rugby World Cup 2011: All Blacks pick Vito, omit Sivivatu & Gear

Victor Vito
Victor Vito has played just 11 minutes for New Zealand in this year's Tri-Nations

Victor Vito was the only surprise in the New Zealand squad named by the 2011 Rugby World Cup external-linkhosts.

Loose forward Vito played just 11 minutes for the All Blacks in the recent Tri-Nations but made the final 30 announced by coach Graham Henry.

However, there was no place for veteran winger Sitiveni Sivivatu and Wyatt Crockett, Liam Messam, Jarrad Hoeata and Hosea Gear.

Henry said: "Generally, this team has been selected on current form."

Vito's inclusion came at the cost of Messam, whose inability to impose himself at the breakdown against a massive South Africa pack in the 18-5 Tri-Nations defeat contributed to him losing his place.

Open-side flanker Richie McCaw will lead the team in his third World Cup. Lock Ali Williams, fly-half Daniel Carter, hooker Keven Mealamu and full-back Mils Muliaina will also be playing in their third World Cup.

Henry admitted that telling players they had not been included in the squad was a tough job.

"All the players who missed selection are not only outstanding players but special people," he said.

"We are close as a group which made this selection all the more difficult.

"We believe there is a good balance; a blend of experienced All Blacks with nine players who have played more than 50 Tests, while at the other end of the scale we have seven players who have played fewer than a dozen tests who bring youthful enthusiasm to the side."

The non-selection of Gear comes four years after his brother Rico was a shock absentee from the 2007 squad that travelled to France.

Sivivatu could also count himself unlucky after his stellar performance in the All Blacks' 60-14 victory over Fiji, which led Henry to heap praise on the winger, whom he described as the best player on the field.

Crusaders and Hawke's Bay winger Zac Guildford was chosen ahead of Sivivatu after a fine outing against Australia.


Forwards: (16)

Props: John Afoa (Auckland), Ben Franks (Tasman), Owen Franks (Canterbury), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour). Hookers: Corey Flynn (Canterbury), Andrew Hore (Taranaki), Keven Mealamu (Auckland). Locks: Anthony Boric (North Harbour), Brad Thorn (Canterbury), Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury), Ali Williams (Auckland). Back-rows: Jerome Kaino (Auckland), Richie McCaw (capt/Canterbury), Kieran Read (Canterbury), Adam Thomson (Otago), Victor Vito (Wellington).

Backs: (14)

Full-backs/wings: Mils Muliaina (Waikato), Israel Dagg (Hawke's Bay), Zac Guildford (Hawke's Bay), Cory Jane (Wellington), Isaia Toeava (Auckland). Centres: Richard Kahui (Waikato), Ma'a Nonu (Wellington), Conrad Smith (Wellington), Sonny Bill Williams (Canterbury). Fly-halves: Daniel Carter (Canterbury), Colin Slade (Canterbury). Scrum-halves: Jimmy Cowan (Southland), Andy Ellis (Canterbury), Piri Weepu (Wellington).