Colin Slade is right in the mix as All Blacks coach Graham Henry announced the players for two training camps to be held during the Super Rugby playoffs.
The All Blacks coaches have named 25 players outside the Crusaders and Blues to be involved in the two camps as they look towards the Tri-Nations and World Cup.
The first camp will be in Wellington next week with the second also in the capital the following week ahead of the Tri-Nations squad naming on July 10.
There are three injured players also involved in the two camps - Israel Dagg, Isaia Toeava and Tony Woodcock
First five-eighth Slade comes into both categories after missing out on most of the Highlanders' campaign, having broken his jaw twice.
Backup at No 10 to Dan Carter is going to be crucial and Aaron Cruden is also included in the training camps mix.
Among the more notable names missing are Chiefs first five-eighths Stephen Donald and Mike Delany, Chiefs flanker Tanerau Latimer and Highlanders prop Jamie Mackintosh, who have all been recent All Blacks.
Those not named seem unlikely to feature in the Tri-Nations and will struggle to break into Henry's World Cup squad.
We're not at all surprised to see the door closed on Stephen Donald; nor are we especially disappointed. But for a dreadful clearing kick in Hong Kong last year, the All Blacks would have had an unbeaten season, and their psychological advantage over the Australians would have been preserved. Donald needed only to kick the ball into the grandstand, thus preventing a quick throw-in being taken. From the resultant lineout, the All Blacks would in all probability have been able to hold the Wallabies out. Instead, Donald kicked to hand, the Wallabies backs ran the ball back and scored.
Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden reflect the future of New Zealand first-five play; Stephen Donald does not. We are pleased that Henry and co are looking forward should, God forbid, something happen to Dan Carter. Cruden has improved markedly as the season has gone on, and Slade will be hungry for some rugby after two freakish lay-off's due to fractured jaws.
We note too that the 25 players selected had better be ready next week; New Zealand Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens is going to run a training session, which will sort out the men from the boys!