World number one New Zealand named their most experienced squad on Tuesday as they chase their first World Cup success in 24 years at home in next month's tournament.
The 30-man squad, named in Brisbane and which will be led by veteran All Blacks flank Richie McCaw, comprises 16 forwards and 14 backs.
The All Blacks, consistently ranked number one in the world, have a well-documented history of World Cup collapses which has earned them the tag of chokers on the big stage.
There is a combined 1,133 Test caps of experience in the All Blacks squad.
Along with skipper McCaw there are four others - flyhalf Daniel Carter, hooker Keven Mealamu, fullback Mils Muliaina and lock Ali Williams - who will appear in their third World Cup tournament, while another seven will be playing in their second tournament.
"It’s an incredibly exciting time for the team and a unique opportunity to represent New Zealand at home," coach Graham Henry said.
"The players will be facing the ultimate challenge - playing for the most coveted trophy in world rugby, the World Cup."
Among this year's All Blacks to miss selection were wings Hosea Gear, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Ben Smith, loose forward Liam Messam, prop Wyatt Crockett and lock Jarrad Hoeata.
"I want to pay tribute to those players who have missed out on selection," Henry said, adding: "It was an incredibly difficult process. All the players who missed selection are not only outstanding players but special people.
"We are close as a group which made this selection all the more difficult.
"This team has been selected on current form. We believe there is a good balance," he added.
"There is a blend of experienced All Blacks with nine players who have played more than 50 Tests while at the other end of the scale we have seven players who have played fewer than a dozen Tests who bring youthful enthusiasm to the side.
"There is also a balance in the fact that we have players who are specialists in their position, while others have utility value and can cover a number of positions, so we have the players to cover any possibilities which may be thrown up during the tournament."
Auckland Blues lock Anthony Boric was chosen despite not being considered this season after a foot injury in June and will only make his return this week in a provincial match.
Wellington Hurricanes' back row forward Victor Vito replaced Messam after playing only 11 minutes of the losing Test against the Springboks last weekend while Messam had been an ever-present in the All Blacks squad this season.
Henry said the Crusaders' Guildford was preferred over the other wing prospects Sivivatu and Gear because of his superior work rate and desire.
"He's probably just played with a little bit more energy than the others, a bit more desire," Henry said.
"Because of that energy, because of that availability, he got the nod."
The All Blacks won the inaugural World Cup at home in 1987 but have failed since then and in a major upset were dumped out by France 20-18 in the quarterfinals of the 2007 tournament in France.
The All Blacks open their World Cup campaign against Tonga at Eden Park on September 9 and are also grouped with France, Japan and Canada.
Henry added: "Firstly, I would like to congratulate all those players selected. It’s an incredibly exciting time for the team and a unique opportunity to represent New Zealand at home."
The long-standing Kiwi coach, in his second-successive World Cup as New Zealand mentor, said the All Blacks squad was excited to be playing in front of their home fans.
"We have been receiving fantastic support from New Zealanders, we know the country is getting excited by what lies ahead - there is a real buzz around - and the players are really looking forward to soaking up the off-field atmosphere with our home fans."
New Zealand squad:
Forwards: Corey Flynn (Canterbury), Andrew Hore (Taranaki), Keven Mealamu (Auckland), John Afoa (Auckland), Ben Franks (Tasman), Owen Franks (Canterbury), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour), Anthony Boric (North Harbour), Brad Thorn (Canterbury), Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury), Ali Williams (Auckland), Jerome Kaino (Auckland), Richie McCaw (captain, Canterbury), Kieran Read (Canterbury), Adam Thomson (Otago), Victor Vito (Wellington).
Backs: Jimmy Cowan (Southland), Andy Ellis (Canterbury), Piri Weepu (Wellington), Daniel Carter (Canterbury), Colin Slade (Canterbury), Richard Kahui (Waikato), Ma’a Nonu (Wellington), Conrad Smith (Wellington), Sonny Bill Williams (Canterbury), Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay), Zac Guildford (Hawke’s Bay), Cory Jane (Wellington), Mils Muliaina (Waikato), Isaia Toeava (Auckland).
* The All Blacks squad is currently in Brisbane preparing for the final match of the Tri-Nations, against Australia at the Suncorp Stadium this Saturday.
The squad in Brisbane is:
Forwards: John Afoa, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Kieran Read, Brad Thorn, Adam Thomson, Samuel Whitelock, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock, Victor Vito.
Backs: Daniel Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Zac Guildford, Richard Kahui, Cory Jane, Mils Muliaina, Ma’a Nonu, Colin Slade, Conrad Smith, Isaia Toeava, Piri Weepu and Sonny Bill Williams.
After the Tri-Nations decider, the All Blacks World Cup squad will fly home for its official unveiling in New Zealand at a media event in Auckland on Monday, August 29.
The players will then spend several days at home with friends and family before flying around the country on Friday 2 September for the All Blacks Coming To A Town Near You visit to small-town New Zealand. Eleven towns will be hosting groups of players on the day giving their residents the chance to spend some time with the All Blacks before World Cup kicks off.
The team will then re-assemble in Auckland to prepare for the tournament’s opening match against Tonga on Friday September 9.
The All Blacks are in Pool A at World Cup and their other Pool matches are against Japan (Friday, September 16, Hamilton), France (September 24, Auckland), and Canada (Sunday, October 2, Wellington).
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