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All Blacks named for Test against Fiji

Written by Gwyn Pratley (Hertford Highlander)

Posted in :All Blacks, In the news on 20 Jul 2011 at 01:29
Tagged with : , ,

All report that the All Blacks Coaches have named their team for the Test against Fiji at Carisbrook, Dunedin, on Friday 22 July, with Taranaki and Highlanders lock Jarrad Hoeata to make his Test debut and Colin Slade his first Test start.

Starting XV:
1. Wyatt Crockett (3)
2. Andrew Hore (50)
3. Ben Franks (7)
4. Jarrad Hoeata*
5. Ali Williams (61)
6. Adam Thomson (17)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (94)
8. Liam Messam (6)
9. Jimmy Cowan (44)
10. Colin Slade (1)
11. Sitiveni Sivivatu (43)
12. Ma’a Nonu (56)
13. Conrad Smith (45)
14. Zac Guildford (10)
15. Mils Muliaina (94)

16. Corey Flynn (12)
17. John Afoa (30)
18. Samuel Whitelock (13)
19. Jerome Kaino (37)
20. Piri Weepu (44)
21. Daniel Carter (79)
22. Ben Smith (1)

* Test debut
Number of Test caps in brackets

The key features of the squad are the naming of 27-year-old Hoeata in the second row, alongside 61-Test All Blacks veteran Ali Williams, who returns to the All Blacks Test side for the first time since November 2008. Williams will play his 62nd Test, becoming the joint third most capped All Blacks lock, alongside Robin Brooke.

It’s also a return to the All Blacks for Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett and Highlanders wing Ben Smith who last played for the All Blacks on the 2009 Northern Hemisphere tour. Crockett is alongside 50–Test hooker Andrew Hore and tighthead prop Ben Franks in what will be an All Blacks debut for the front row combination.

The team will be captained by Richie McCaw who, together with fullback teammate Mils Muliaina, will extend their records as the most capped All Blacks. Joining McCaw in the loose forward trio are Liam Messam at number eight and Adam Thomson at blindside flanker.

In the backs, Jimmy Cowan will start at halfback while Slade makes his first run–on start at first five–eighth in his second Test. All Blacks midfielders Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith will play their 27th Test together, just one Test behind the record held by the famous midfield partnership of Walter Little and Frank Bunce. The starting wings are Sitiveni Sivivatu and Zac Guildford.

Cory Jane, who dislocated a finger in Wellington’s ITM Cup match against Taranaki on the weekend, was ruled out of contention, while other injured players not considered include Richard Kahui (hamstring), Tony Woodcock (foot), Isaia Toeava (hip), Hosea Gear (hamstring) and Israel Dagg (thigh muscle).

All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said: “This is an important Test for us as we kick off this year’s Test season. We have got some real competition for places and it’s exciting for those players picked and they will keen to put their best foot forward.”

While there are several new combinations in the All Blacks team, Henry said they would not be taking the Fijians lightly.

“They were competitive in the recent Pacific Nations Cup and will bring their unique style so we will have to be clinical in the way we play. You just need to look at how Fiji’s Pacific neighbours Samoa played against Australia on the weekend to know that if we underestimate Fiji, we do so at our peril, “Henry said.

The All Blacks squad has been out and about meeting fans ahead of Friday’s Test, which is a fund-raising Test for Christchurch, with the squad taking Under 14 Otago club players for a coaching clinic on Monday and signing autographs for an estimated two thousand fans at a public training at Carisbrook yesterday.

“It’s always fantastic to come to Dunedin for Test rugby and the All Blacks always get a great reception here so we hope that we get a good crowd along on Friday night to support the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal,” Henry added.

The All Blacks have played Fiji four times since 1987. The last Test was at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland in 2005.


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