Rugby Championship News

All Blacks rest top players for South Africa





All Blacks coach Graham Henry and his assistant coaches Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen and fellow selector, Sir Brian Lochore have recalled former captain Reuben Thorne in one of eight changes for Saturday’s Tri-Nations match against South Africa.

Thorne, who last played for the All Blacks at the 2003 World Cup, replaces the rested Jerry Collins at blind-side.

The team announced has a bit of B team look to it which will add further insult to injury for the Springboks who suffered a record defeat on Saturday. Jerry Collins, Aaron Mauger, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Rico Gear, Byron Kelleher and Joe Rokocoko have all been rested.

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Lock Ali Williams, prop Neemia Tialata and hooker Anton Oliver also come into the forward pack.

Doug Howlett and Scott Hamilton start on the wings, Sam Tuitupou at inside centre and Piri Weepu at scrum-half.

Jason Eaton, Keven Mealamu and the injured Tony Woodcock are the forwards to drop out of the 22.

“The changes help to keep all of our players physically and mentally sharp,” said the head coach.

“We hope that can provide an edge for us against South Africa this weekend and for the Tri-Nations series as a whole.”

Henry and co were in Australia last weekend to watch the Australia v South Africa match and said that they were surprised at the Springboks poor performance.

All Blacks:

Leon MacDonald; Doug Howlett, Mils Muliaina, Sam Tuitupou, Scott Hamilton; Dan Carter, Piri Weepu; Neemia Tialata, Anton Oliver, Carl Hayman, Chris Jack, Ali Williams, Reuben Thorne, Richie McCaw (captain), Rodney So’oialo.

Reserves: Andrew Hore, Greg Somerville, Greg Rawlinson, Chris Masoe, Jimmy Cowan, Luke McAlister, Isaia Toeava.

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