Fourteen members of New Zealand’s RWC 2011 winning side will be seeking to create history by lifting the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time after the 31-man squad was named today in Wellington.

For the other 17 players making the final cut it will be their first taste of a Rugby World Cup, including Waisake Naholo who was initially ruled out with a broken leg suffered on debut in The Rugby Championship but has made a remarkable recovery.

While there are four test centurions in the squad in Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Dan Carter, there are also three players with three or less caps in hooker Codie Taylor, Naholo and Nehe Milner-Skudder.

The players selected have a combined total of 1,484 test caps, almost 1,000 of them among the 17 forwards in the squad for England 2015, when New Zealand will face Argentina, Georgia, Namibia and Tonga in Pool C.

“It’s a huge honour to represent your country on the international stage. It’s the pinnacle for any New Zealand rugby player and we know the players and their families will be immensely proud of what they have achieved,” said coach Steve Hansen.

“Conversely, we know that there are some players who are disappointed. We are a tight-knit family and it’s always difficult when players miss out. Those players did everything asked of them and the selections are more a reflection of the player depth that we have, and the mix of players required to effectively manage a 31-strong squad at what is a unique tournament with a unique set of replacement player rules.

ALL BLACKS TO THE NATION

“I’m sure it won’t be the last time a lot of the players who have missed out play for the All Blacks. As we have seen in previous Rugby World Cups, anything can happen with injuries, and we want those players to be ready to step in if needed.

“To the fans I would like to say: our attitude going into this Rugby World Cup is not a case of expecting it, but one of making it happen. The Cup isn’t ours. We are not defenders; like everyone else, we are contenders. We have to earn the right to win it through world-class performances.

“In doing so, we have to do something that no-one has ever done before. But that is a hugely exciting challenge and one I believe the team will rise to. With this in mind, we believe we have selected players with the right mix of experience, x-factor, determination and mental strength.

After all these years the hairs on the back of my neck still stand up when I hear my name called out to be a part of the @AllBlacks

“This is an exciting and talented group of players who are looking to do something that hasn’t been done before, and make New Zealanders proud.”

The All Blacks will have a three-day camp in Wellington this week before the squad flies around the country on Thursday for the hugely popular ‘All Blacks to the Nation’ event, with the players being hosted by communities in Long Bay and Papakura in Auckland, New Plymouth, Greytown, Whakatane, Gisborne, Westport, Stoke, Dunedin and Mataura.

The squad will then reassemble in Auckland for a three-day camp on 7 September before flying out to London three days later.

New Zealand will begin the defence of the Webb Ellis Cup against Argentina at Wembley on 20 September. The All Blacks will then face Namibia four days later at The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with their remaining Pool C matches against Georgia at the Millennium Stadium on 2 October and Tonga a week later at St James' Park in Newcastle.

NEW ZEALAND RWC 2015 SQUAD

Forwards: Dane Coles, Keven Mealamu, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Kieran Read, Victor Vito.

Backs: Tawera Kerr–Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Daniel Carter, Colin Slade, Malakai Fekitoa, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Julian Savea, Ben Smith.

You can follow the New Zealand squad on Twitter

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