x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

All Black Messam told to shape up

The loose forward who has been left out of New Zealand's squad for the Tri Nations, has been instructed to work on reducing his error rate.

Liam Messam, the loose forward who has been left out of New Zealand's squad for the Tri Nations, has been instructed to work on reducing his error rate by All Blacks coach Graham Henry. Messam, 25, has paid the price for an error-strewn performance in the first Test against France and has lost out to Kieran Read, who replaced him at the back of the scrum for the remaining Tests against France and Italy. Richie McCaw and Rodney So'oialo are back in the squad after injury, leaving no room for Messam.

"He missed crucial tackles and turned the ball over, which cost us points," said Henry. "At Test match level you just can't afford to do that. He's got some things that win games, but he's got some things that lose games and that's the disappointment for us, and I'm sure the disappointment for him." Hosea Gear, in contrast, can prepare for the series against Australia and South Africa after being recalled to the squad.

Gear, the wing who scored eight tries in four matches for the Junior All Blacks in their title-winning Pacific Nations Cup campaign, got the nod ahead of the exciting Lelia Masaga when Henry named his 30-man squad for the series. "It was a nice surprise for me," said Gear. "I wasn't really holding my breath at all. I know I've still got thing to work on in my game and I wasn't really expecting anything."

Gear, who made his international debut in the Bledisloe Cup against Australia in Hong Kong last year and was part of the All Blacks squad who completed the grand slam on their tour of the northern hemisphere in 2008, missed the last eight weeks of the Super 14 season after injuring a knee in week six of the competition. "My main focus was trying to get back out on the park and trying to get back into form. I wasn't really thinking too far ahead about All Blacks selection," said the Wellington back.

* With agencies