Joe gets All Blacks recall

Dynamic wing Joe Rokocoko is back in the All Blacks squad and will be looking to add to his 45 try tally in his 60 previous Tests when Ireland and Wales head Down Under in June. [more]

Joe gets All Blacks recall

Dynamic wing Joe Rokocoko is back in the All Blacks squad and will be looking to add to his 45 try tally in his 60 previous Tests when Ireland and Wales head Down Under in June.

The 26-year-old has been recalled to the All Blacks squad for their June Tests against Ireland and Wales following some strong performances for the Auckland Blues in the Super 14.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry admitted that one of his most potent strike forces had got himself into “a bit of a hole” last year, but said he was delighted to welcome him back into the fold.

“He's shown huge character to go back and find what's inside him and to be really inspired to play as he's done,” said All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith.

”He was in the pit a wee bit last year. Part of that was that he spent a lot of time in training trying to master the high ball skills which were a big part of the game last year and I don't think that helped his running game.

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”But he’s shown an ability to take the high ball, to field kicks a lot better and  his running game has come back into mode and it's given real strength to do what he's done.”

Rokocoko has a 100 per cent record against both Ireland and Wales and in his five games against the Welsh he has scored six tries. He has yet to score against the Irish despite notching three victories over them.

The Blues wing returns to a back division that has been beset by problems. Ma'a Nonu (knee), Isaia Toeava (hip), Mike Delany (shoulder) and Stephen Donald (shoulder) are all ruled out through injury, Luke McAlister has dropped down to NZ Maori due to a lack of form and Richard Kahui has been selected but is struggling with a rib cartilage problem that is likely to keep him out of the Ireland game on 12 June.

That has opened the door for the Blues inside centre Benson Stanley, the nephew of the great World Cup winning inside centre Joe Stanley, and he is one of four uncapped players in the 26-man squad. The others are outside half Aaron Cruden, full back Israel Dagg and back row man Victor Vito.

Cruden captained the All Blacks to the Under 20 Junior World Cup title last year and was named as the IRB Young Player of the Year. He recently overcame testicular cancer and has just finished his first season in Super 14.

There is no place for No 8 Rodney So’oialo, but Hurricanes half back Piri Weepu has joined Rokocoko in gaining a recall. Injuries to Ali Williams and Jason Eaton have left second-row stocks a bit thin.

ALL BLACKS SQUAD

Anthony Boric (North Harbour), Dan Carter (Canterbury), Jimmy Cowan (Southland), Aaron Cruden (Manawatu), Israel Dagg (Hawke's Bay), Aled de Malmanche (Waikato), Tom Donnelly (Otago), Ben Franks (Tasman), Owen Franks (Canterbury), Zac Guildford (Hawke's Bay), Cory Jane (Wellington), Richard Kahui (Waikato), Jerome Kaino (Auckland), Richie McCaw (Canterbury, captain), Keven Mealamu (Auckland), Mils Muliaina (Waikato), Joe Rokocoko (Auckland), Kieran Read (Canterbury), Conrad Smith (Wellington), Benson Stanley (Auckland), Adam Thomson (Otago), Brad Thorn (Canterbury), Neemia Tialata (Wellington), Victor Vito (Wellington), Piri Weepu (Wellington), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour).

Players not considered for this selection because of injury included Mike Delany, Stephen Donald, Jason Eaton, Andrew Hore, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Ali Williams.

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