Thorne back for Blacks

Versatile forward Reuben Thorne has won a recall to the All Blacks Vodacom Tri-Nations squad.

Having captained New Zealand for 22 of his 41 Tests, Thorne edges out Auckland’s Troy Flavell and Jerome Kaino – two players who’ve had lack-lustre beginnings to the international season.

“Reuben is a proven performer,” coach Graham Henry said. “We have looked at other candidates in the last three Tests, none of whom have played to Reuben’s form in the Super 14.

“Hopefully, there is a glimpse of the future in those selections but, for now, Reuben’s form is the benchmark.”

Thorne has played both flank and lock for his Super 14 franchise, the Crusaders, and has his versatility will definitely be a plus to the All Black cause.

Incumbent second rowers Greg Rawlinson and Ali Williams were shaky in the first few Tests, and so Thorne may well make his return in the second row rather than on the side of the scrum. The All Blacks have considerable depth in this department, with veteran Chris Jack and the Hurricanes’ Jason Eaton also included in the squad.

SQUAD:

Backs: Leon MacDonald, Mils Muliaina, Rico Gear, Doug Howlett, Joe Rokocoko, Scott Hamilton, Ma’a Nonu, Isaia Toeava, Aaron Mauger, Daniel Carter, Luke McAlister, Piri Weepu, Byron Kelleher, Jimmy Cowan.

Forwards: Rodney So’oialo, Richie McCaw (captain), Chris Masoe, Jerry Collins, Reuben Thorne, Chris Jack, Ali Williams, Jason Eaton, Greg Rawlinson, Carl Hayman, Greg Somerville, Neemia Tialata, Tony Woodcock, Anton Oliver, Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore.