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Premiership Rugby

Caucau to play for NZ Barbarians

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Caucau found himself in the middle of a controversy after reportedly saying he was ready to turn his back on Fiji to try to play for New Zealand despite being ineligible under current IRB rules.

His selection in the invitational side that will play the world champions at Twickenham on December 20 – as reported by allblacks.com – does not rule out a return to Fiji, but the sight of the flyer lining up alongside New Zealanders will be a bitter pill to swallow for his native countryman.

The full 22-man squad has yet to be officially announced, but clubs and coaches have been quick to lend their support and several parts of the jigsaw are already in place.

Former All Black skippers Taine Randell and Anton Oliver will get the chance to take on the world champion English pack, with selection in the New Zealand Barbarians team which Randell will captain.

They will be joined by another Otago duo in former Test lock Simon Maling and flanker Josh Blackie.

Randell, who presently plays at Saracens in England, will captain the team – continuing a job he held last year when the Barbarians beat New Zealand Maori in Albany.

Highlanders coach Greg Cooper confirmed Oliver, Maling and Blackie have been given clearance from Super 12 training to attend the festival match in London, which is a sell-out.

Hooker Oliver was dropped from the All Black squad before this year's Tri-Nations campaign and never made John Mitchell's World Cup squad, while Maling was hampered with injuries in the lead-up to the tournament and also missed the rugby showpiece.

Blues utility back Rico Gear and prop Tony Woodcock, an All Black at the end of last year, will also travel to London, as will their Super 12 captain Xavier Rush.

The showpiece match will bring a perfect end to a huge year for Rush who skippered the Blues to their Super 12 title and led Auckland to another Air New Zealand NPC title.

Blues manager, Ant Strachan said two other players were under consideration depending on contractual arrangements.

Twickenham has sold out for the December 20 clash, with England coach Clive Woodward saying he would field the 22 players who beat Australia in the World Cup Final.


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