NZ second stringers to front Boks
17 Jul 2006
The All Blacks are poised to rest some of their stars against the Boks and only play them against the Wallabies in a fortnight.
The word from New Zealand is that the All Blacks will for the fifth successive test this season ring the changes to their side, with the best starting XV only likely to be reunited in Brisbane when the All Blacks play the Wallabies.
Wellington prop Neemia Tialata and Auckland wing Doug Howlett are tipped to return to the starting XV and Highlanders hooker Anton Oliver is another who may start with Keven Mealamu rested completely. Andrew Hore would play as back-up hooker.
Rueben Thorne is also said to be in the starting XV, which means a rejigged back row for the All Blacks.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry played nine of his front line players against Ireland in the two-test series win and the remainder six started against the Pumas in the 25-19 win in Buenos Aires.
He then picked his best available side for the 32-12 victory against the Wallabies.
Now the woeful performance of the Boks has given Henry some breathing space and he will again use this test to expose second-tier players (in his squad) to international rugby.
Most would argue that Thorne and Howlett would make any international team and it underlines the depth available to Henry when his back-up is New Zealand’s most successful test captain in Thorne (when it comes to winning percentages), the second highest try scorer and the second most capped hooker.
Ali Williams is also said to be in with a chance to start ahead of Jason Eaton, which means there could be four changes to the pack and at least two to the backs.