New Zealand All Blacks Rugby News

Masoe at No.8 as Kiwis ‘rebuild’




The reconditioned All Blacks will use their two-match test series against France, starting at Eden Park in Auckland this Saturday, as a “rebuilding phase”.

Despite naming a very strong and impressive looking side for the first test against France, in Auckland on Saturday, All Black coach Graham Henry emphasised the need to “rebuild the foundations” of his dominant 2006 squad.

The All Blacks have named a team close to full strength, with Reuben Thorne starting as blindside flank and Chris Masoe at number eight. Rodney So’oialo has been named on the bench, while Jerry Collins has been ruled out by a heel injury.

Also not considered for selection due to injury was hooker Anton Oliver, who is managing a foot injury.

The rest of the forward pack has a familiar look – with Ali Williams starting as lock alongside Chris Jack, despite his Super 14 booze binges.

In the backline the selection of Piri Weepu at scrum-half and Leon MacDonald were to be expected after Byron Kelleher and Mils Muliaina were ruled out by injury.

Isaia Toeava will start at centre alongside Aaron Mauger – with Conrad Smith missing out through hamstring strains.

Joe Rokocoko, who has only played a few club games in recent months, has been named on the right wing with Sitiveni Sivivatu on the left wing.

The Chiefs’ rookie scrum-half Brendon Leonard might get his first cap off the bench.

Henry made it clear his team is striving to regain their 2006 form.

“We have set high standards for ourselves in the Tests against France,” said coach Graham Henry.

“We’d like to find the good form we had in November as quickly as possible and then build on it. So, for us, there’s a lot at stake.”

Henry also spoke about Masoe’s selection at the back of the scrum.

“We want Chris to have some game time at No. 8 this season and build his experience at the test-level.”

But it is the need to rebuild the foundations of his dominant 2006 squad that was the main theme for the All Black coach.

“What we’re trying to do is get back to basics , make sure we do the basic ingredients of the game well. . . the set piece, line-outs, scrums, restarts, defensive patterns.

“We’re trying to make sure our foundations are right from where we left off last year. If you start up the ladder a bit and think those things are there you have to come back and reinforce them.

“We’re starting from scratch and rebuilding the team.”

All Blacks: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Troy Flavell, 19 Rodney So’oialo, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Nick Evans, 22 Ma’a Nonu.

Date: Saturday, 2 June
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:35 (07.35 GMT)


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