Crusaders lose kingpins

Richie McCaw and Dan Carter will miss the first half of the Vodacom Super 14 along with 20 other All Blacks.

All Black coach Graham Henry on Monday released the names of the players who will take part in an extended “conditioning” programme.

Henry defended the move, which has angered broadcasters Newscorp, saying it was integral to New Zealand’s attempt to win the World Cup for the first time since 1987.

“Many of our best athletes have played several years of continuous rugby without a chance to really get their bodies right,” he said. “The conditioning programme is important for their well-being in the long term and also important to our chances of winning the World Cup.

“There is a long way to go before we name the World Cup squad and a large group of players are pushing for selection. The door is definitely open.”

The 22 players to miss the first seven weeks of the 2007 Super 14 are:

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

Backs: Dan Carter, Byron Kelleher, Leon MacDonald, Aaron Mauger, Mils Muliaina, Joe Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Piri Weepu.