allblacks.com - (6/07/2010)
All Blacks Coach Graham Henry and his Assistant Coaches Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith have named their team for the opening Test of the Investec Tri Nations against South Africa at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday 10 July.
1. Tony Woodcock (63) 2. Keven Mealamu (74) 3. Owen Franks (12)4. Brad Thorn (40) 5. Tom Donnelly (7)6. Jerome Kaino (27) 7. Richie McCaw – captain (83) 8. Kieran Read (19)
9. Jimmy Cowan (36) 10. Daniel Carter (69)
11. Josevata Rokocoko (62)12. Ma’a Nonu (46) 13. Conrad Smith (35) 14. Cory Jane (15) 15. Mils Muliaina (83)
Reserves:16. Corey Flynn (7) 17. Ben Franks (2)18. Samuel Whitelock (3)19. Liam Messam (3)
20. Piri Weepu (37) 21. Aaron Cruden (3) 22. Richard Kahui (10)
The squad features four changes from the starting XV which started the second Test against Wales in Hamilton last month: Owen Franks comes into the front row at tighthead prop, 62-Test wing Josevata Rokocoko returns on the left wing, 46-Test All Black Ma’a Nonu returns from his knee injury at second five-eighth, with Conrad Smith, who has recovered from his eye injury, outside Nonu at centre.
On the bench, Corey Flynn is reserve hooker alongside prop Ben Franks, Samuel Whitelock is lock cover, with Liam Messam covering the loose forwards. Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden and Richard Kahui are the back reserves.
Graham Henry said: “The Springboks are the defending Investec Tri Nations champions and, like us, will be keen to kick off their campaign on a winning note. However, our squad has prepared well and the players are excited by the first up challenge this weekend. It’s going to be a massive kick off to the competition.”
Two All Blacks reach significant milestones this weekend: Keven Mealamu is playing his 75th Test and will become the sixth most capped All Black in history, while Dan Carter is playing his 70th Test, joining his former Canterbury, Crusaders and All Blacks team-mate Andrew Mehrtens.
Meanwhile, this weekend’s Test marks a special milestone for Eden Park - it will be 90 years to the day since the All Blacks first played a match at the famous ground. The first All Blacks match at Eden Park was against Auckland on Saturday 20 July 1920, with 9,000 people turning up on a fine day for the match which ended in an 11-all draw.