The All Blacks have boosted their side with 11 first-choice stars returning for Saturday’s Tri-Nations decider against the Wallabies in Brisbane.
The starting XV named on Thursday includes 10 of the run-on side from the 30-14 victory over the Wallabies in Auckland almost three weeks ago, with Richie McCaw returning to captain the side in his 98th Test.
A largely second-string All Blacks team was beaten 18-5 by the Springboks in Port Elizabeth last weekend to be level on nine points with the Wallabies heading into the southern hemisphere tournament’s final Test.
Owen Franks returns to the front row alongside prop Tony Woodcock and hooker Keven Mealamu, who both started last week's Test against South Africa.
Brad Thorn is back at lock together with Sam Whitelock, while in the loose forwards, Adam Thomson is at blindside flanker, McCaw returns at openside and Kieran Read is number eight.
Piri Weepu gets the nod at scrum-half, Daniel Carter is again in the number 10 jersey, while the All Blacks’ most capped midfield Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith are reunited.
Nonu will join Walter Little as the most capped All Blacks inside-centre with 45 Tests.
Zac Guildford and Cory Jane will start on the wings, with Mils Muliaina at fullback.
“This is a tournament-defining match for the team. The winner wins the Tri-Nations, it’s as simple as that,” coach Graham Henry said.
“Australia are a dangerous team to play and they will be looking to bounce back from the loss against us in Auckland, so we will have to play at our very best. It’s going to be a massive Test match.”
The All Blacks have yet to be beaten in three Tests at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and are bidding for their 12th Tri-Nations crown.
Sapa-AFP 25 août, 2011 http://www.timeslive.co.za/sport/rugby/2011/08/25/mccaw-and-carter-return-for-tri-nations-decider