Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rugby: Braid to stand in for McCaw against Wallabies

Wed, 23 Jul 2008 6:58p.m

Daniel Braid will start for the All Blacks in their Tri-Nations clash with the Wallabies in Sydney this weekend. It will be Braid's first test in five years, standing in for Richie McCaw, who has still not recovered from his ankle injury. Rodney So'oialo will lead the side.

Usual skipper McCaw was up for this morning's training, but the injured flanker was gone by lunchtime, opening the door for replacement specialist open side Daniel Braid to return after five years.

"Some of the Auckland boys have been calling me Xavier Rush, seven years in between," says Baird.

Mccaw's situation is one lock Ali Williams understands only too well.

"Sort of got pretty similar injuries and the pain's frustrating," he says."You can sort of do things but the pain level's quite high, and that's what really makes your decision."

It has been a month since centre Richard Kahui's test debut, and playing Australia is the fulfilment of a boyhood dream.

"It was always the big one. Dad used to pull the chair up close to the couch and the opportunity to be a part of it, it's awesome."

Kahui is preferred over Conrad Smith while winger Antony Tuitavake has a big job in only his third test.

"The person I'm marking is the most devastating player in the team, Lote Tuqiri," says Tuitavake."He was on fire last week, and this week he will be amping to have another big one."

This test build-up has been rather strange for the former charges of Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

"Pretty weird to be honest," says Brad Thorn, "and he'll be having a team talk half an hour before the game and I'm going to be in that other team, so it's pretty funny."

The All Blacks will be hoping they have the last laugh on Saturday.

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