AB’s turn to Gear and Donald
10 Oct 2011
Hosea Gear and Stephen Donald will debut in the World Cup semi-final against Australia.
Aaron Cruden has been confirmed as the player who will start at flyhalf after injury ended Colin Slade’s tournament. Cruden played the last 47 minutes against Argentina. He was a replacement for Daniel Carter, which means the All Blacks have lost both their original squad flyhalves.
Gear, a shock omission from the original squad, is a wing starting option or will provide wing cover on the bench. He replaced Mils Muliaina who hurt his shoulder in his 100th Test. Muliaina will play his rugby in Japan next year and won’t again play for the All Blacks.
Both players left the squad on Monday.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry told the media scrumhalf Piri Weepu would stay at No 9.
‘They’re very disappointed,’ said Henry. ‘They’ve got tournament-ending injuries, so how they feel is very natural. They’re very disappointed to be leaving the group at this stage of the tournament.
‘It’s a difficult situation. They can’t stay with the team.’
Gear and Donald will link up with the squad on Tuesday.
‘We’re lucky the guys coming in have played test match football in recent times,’ said Henry. ‘[The situation] is not out of their control, because they have been here, they know the players, know the environment we live in and know the rugby we’re trying to play.’
The All Blacks coach said he was delighted at how Cruden had played.
‘Keeping Aaron Cruden off his skateboard has been a major. Last week he was skateboarding round Palmerston North having a couple of beers and watching us play. Now he’s the No 1 No 10 in the country. It’s a big challenge but last weekend he handled the situation particularly well.’