Friday 24 November 2017 / 06:34 PM

All Blacks' World Cup squad named

The All Blacks squad was named at The Beehive – New Zealand’s parliament building in Wellington – on Sunday night, and contained a handful of surprise inclusions and several more unlucky omissions.

Lima Sopoaga, who steered the Highlanders to Super XV glory and enjoyed a sparkling Test debut against South Africa at Ellis Park, lost out to the versatility and experience of Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade in the flyhalf mix behind Dan Carter.

Winger/fullback Charles Piutau can be considered equally unfortunate after starring in his Test outings this season, including a man-of-the-match performance against the Springboks. The Blues gun was edged out by boom international rookies Nehe Milner-Skudder and Waisake Naholo, the latter making a miracle comeback after suffering a leg fracture on Test debut just six weeks ago.

Unlike the Wallabies, coach Steve Hansen and the New Zealand selectors have opted to take three specialist halfbacks and hookers. Tawera Kerr-Barlow nabbed the third halfback spot despite an injury-plagued season that saw him miss the Chiefs entire Super Rugby campaign, while Crusaders tyro Codie Taylor was something of a bolter as the third-choice hooker.   

Test veterans Israel Dagg and Cory Jane were ultimately unable to overcome injury-ravaged Super Rugby seasons, despite impressive recent returns to ITM Cup action.

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