Rugby Championship News

All Blacks chill their midfield





Fit-again youngster Isaia ‘Ice’ Toeava has been recalled to the All Blacks line-up for Saturday’s Tri-Nations clash against the Springboks at the Jade Stadium in Christchurch.

Toeava replaces Luke McAlister at centre, with the former shifting one place to second five-eighth, with regular No.12 Aaron Mauger dropping out of the matchday 22 altogether.

In other changes, Doug Howlett replaces Rico Gear on the right-wing, Sitiveni Sivivatu takes the No.11 shirt from his cousin Joe Rokocoko, Piri Weepu will start at scrum-half, Reuben Thorne will wear the No.6 shirt, fit-again Keith Robinson returns in the second row and Keven Mealamu will start at hooker ahead of veteran Anton Oliver.

In other squad news, hooker Andrew Hore gets a chance on the bench, hard-man Jerry Collins has to be content with a spot amongst the replacements and the luckless Conrad Smith returns to the matchday 22 after a series of injuries.

Smith will provide centre cover, with Nick Evans backing up the fly-half and full-back positions after an injury ruled out Leon MacDonald once again.

“Our goal is to improve on the first two Tri-Nations Tests,” said All Blacks coach Graham Henry.

“We can play better and these two home matches are our last chance to do so before the Rugby World Cup.”

When quizzed on the changes, of which there are seven to the starting line-up, Henry added: “We also want to see some players get more time on the field, so there have been changes to the line-up. The challenge is to make sure everyone in the squad is raising the standard.”

The All Blacks selectors drew the team from a 30-man squad; lock Ross Filipo and winger Rico Gear remain with the squad as injury replacements for Ali Williams and Leon MacDonald, respectively.

New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So’oialo, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Keith Robinson, 4 Chris Jack,3 Carl Hayman, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Jerry Collins, 19 Chris Masoe, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Conrad Smith, 22 Nick Evans.

Date: Saturday, 14 July
Venue: Jade Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19.35 (09.35 GMT)
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