WELLINGTON, July 19 – All Blacks coach Graham Henry has dropped Rene Ranger and Liam Messam from his Tri-Nations rugby squad to play Australia and warned his side can only get better after beating South Africa twice."I think we are probably playing at 75 percent, so I think we can get a lot better," Henry said after the All Blacks earned a maximum 10 points from the opening two Tri-Nations Tests against the defending champions South Africa.
Ranger, who scored a try in the second Test 31-17 win over South Africa, and Messam who came off the bench in the second half, make way for Joe Rokocoko and Victor Vito who return from injury for the July 31 Test in Melbourne.
Prop John Afoa, now covering hooker as well, and lock Anthony Boric have been included in the squad travelling to Melbourne despite not being required for the South African Tests.
Halfback Alby Mathewson will also assemble with the squad as cover for Piri Weepu who is preparing for the arrival of his first child.
Australia are expected to produce a similar style to the All Blacks’ high-paced, expansive game, and while the Springboks found it difficult to combat Henry said that would not always be the case.
"There are good teams out there and Australia just might be that team," he said.
In each of the two Tests against the Springboks the All Blacks scored four tries to give them 24 five-pointers from only five Tests this year compared to the total of 24 scored in 14 Tests last year.
The Springboks, the reigning Tri-Nations champions, play Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.
All Blacks squad:
Forwards: John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Tom Donnelly, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Kieran Read, Brad Thorn, Victor Vito, Sam Whitelock and Tony Woodcock.
Backs: Daniel Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Mils Muliaina, Ma’a Nonu, Josevata Rokocoko, Conrad Smith, Benson Stanley and Piri Weepu.