Former Reds flanker misses contract in young Blues squad
Daniel Braid was the marquee player for two seasons with the Reds. Photo: Getty Images
WELLINGTON: There is no room for veteran flanker Daniel Braid in a raw-looking Blues Super Rugby squad for 2013 unveiled by coach John Kirwan.
Half of Kirwan's 32-man squad are new to the franchise as he seeks to turn around this year's forgettable 12th-place finish under predecessor Pat Lam.
The departure of two All Blacks veterans - prop Tony Woodcock and inside centre Ma'a Nonu - stripped the three-time champions of experience and Kirwan's omission of Braid gives them an even greener appearance.
Six-Test All Black Braid, 31, has played 80 Super Rugby games over seven seasons for the Blues and two for the Reds. After captaining Auckland to the final in his 100th NPC match last weekend, he is now expected to seek a contract overseas.
Another Kirwan surprise earlier this month was the delisting of five-eighth Gareth Anscombe, who was snapped up by the 2012 champion Chiefs.
Chris Noakes, Baden Kerr and All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu are the options at No.10 in a backline that features seven players who have never played at Super Rugby level.
They are wingers Marty McKenzie (Southland), Waisake Naholo (Taranaki) and Frank Halai (Counties Manukau), centre Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland), Kerr and halfbacks Jamison Gibson-Park (Taranaki) and Bryn Hall (North Harbour).
New faces in the loose forward mix are Canterbury's Brendon O'Connor and Taranaki's Kane Barrett while Counties Manukau lock Ronald Raaymakers is also promoted.
Long-serving hooker Tom McCartney is listed among the five props named, including newcomers Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Tim Perry.
Quentin MacDonald (Tasman) and James Parson (North Harbour) are hooking cover for Keven Mealamu, who is one of just four current All Blacks in the squad.
Kirwan said today he relished the challenge of bringing the squad together.
"We have several young and exciting players joining our mix. Pairing them up with our senior players and those who have a few Super Rugby campaigns under their belt, makes for an exciting combination," he said.
Backs: Charles Piutau, Marty McKenzie, George Moala, Waisake Naholo, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Malakai Fekitoa, Jackson Willison, Francis Saili, Chris Noakes, Baden Kerr, Piri Weepu, Jamison Gibson-Park, Bryn Hall
Forwards: Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Brendon O'Connor, Kane Barrett, Steven Luatua, Ronald Raaymakers, Ali Williams, Liaki Moli, Anthony Boric, Culum Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Tim Perry, Tom McCartney, Keven Mealamu, Quentin MacDonald, James Parsons