New Zealand and Australia have named their training squads for the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Steve Hansen has named a 30 man All Blacks squad, though it does not include any of the Waikato Chiefs players as they will be contesting the Super XV final on Saturday but they will be named at the formal announcement next week.
The major talking point is the inclusion of Richie McCaw who has only played half an hour of Super rugby this season after taking a six month sabbatical from all rugby following the All Blackâ€™s 2012 autumn tour.
Warm up matches against Wellington and Canterbury could provide McCaw with valuable time to get his match sharpness back and to prove his credentials ahead of his inform clubmate Matt Todd and the Chiefs openside Sam Cane.
Australiaâ€™s squad has provided far more talking points though with the new Head Coach Ewen McKenzie taking a very different tack to that of his predecessor Robbie Deans.
Quade Cooper is welcomed back with open arms by his now former Queensland Reds coach, and with McKenzie having stated that he considers James Oâ€™Connor to be an outside back Cooper must be considered the favourite to start at fly half in the Rugby Championship, particularly given that Kurtley Beale will not return from injury until early 2014.
The uncapped Bernard Foley and Matt Toomua look like Cooperâ€™s likely back ups, though Christian Lealiâ€™ifano can also play at ten, though he is likely to continue in the centres where he excelled against the Lions.
There are a further eight uncapped players in the squad, locks Hugh Pyle and Scott Fardy, scrum half Nic White, centres Tevita Kuridriani and Chris Feauai-Sautia, prop Scott Sio, winger Peter Betham and back row Jake Schatz as McKenzie looks to impose his own style on the squad.
Injuries to David Pocock, Pat McCabe, Wycliffe Palu, Scott Higginbotham, Digby Ioane and the previously mentioned Beale have left them unavailable for the tournament opener on the 17th August.
New Zealand Squad:
Backs: Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea, Ben Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, Conrad Smith, Beauden Barrett, Daniel Carter, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Piri Weepu.
Forwards: Steven Luatua, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Brad Shields, Matt Todd, Victor Vito, Luke Romano, Jeremy Thrush, Samuel Whitelock, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, Dane Coles, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu.
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Peter Betham, Quade Cooper, Nick Cummins, Anthony Faingaa, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Mike Harris, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Jesse Mogg, James Oâ€™Connor, Nick Phipps, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White.
Forwards: Ben Alexander, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Faingaa, Scott Fardy, Liam Gill, Michael Hooper, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Peter Kimlin, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, Tatafu Polota Nau, Hugh Pyle, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper.