Wednesday July 27, 2011 Source: ONE Sport
All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen has flattened claims that skipper Richie McCaw would start at number eight in the Tri Nations clash against the Springboks in Wellington on Saturday.
McCaw had been running at the back of the scrum during training this week, leading to speculation that the world's best openside flanker would wear the number eight jersey to allow makeshift openside Adam Thomson some experience in the role.
However Hansen told media today that this was not the case and McCaw would start the match in his usual position.
"We won't be doing anything different with Richie McCaw than we did last week. He had the number seven jersey on and he'll have the number seven jersey on again this week," Hansen said.
However Hansen said that it was possible McCaw could drop back to the unfamiliar number eight later in the match.
"It's just about getting the right mix for this game... he might have a bit of time at the back of the scrum but that will be horses for courses."
When asked whether number eight was where Hansen saw the 95-Test veteran's long-term future, the response was short - with a touch of irony.
"It could be... but he's not a bad seven."
Hansen confirmed that Thomson was the assigned back-up openside flanker in the Tri Nations squad, but said that may change come World Cup time.
"We've always said that in this group he was doing that job.
"In the World Cup we've got certain rules that dictate what we can and can't do so we have to make a decision based on that so that might mean bringing a specialist seven in."
The All Blacks vs Springboks match kicks off at 7.30pm on Saturday.
Likely All Blacks XV: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Zac Guildford, Daniel Carter, Jimmy Cowan; Adam Thomson, Richie McCaw (c), Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Sam Whitelock, John Afoa, Andrew Hore, Wyatt Crockett.
Reserves: Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Jarrad Hoeata, Liam Messam, Piri Weepu, Colin Slade, Sonny Bill Williams