Jerry Collins, Aaron Mauger, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Rico Gear, Byron Kelleher and Joe Rokocoko have been rested for Saturday’s test against the Springboks.
In a selection that would have added further insult to Jake White’s Springboks, All Blacks coach Graham Henry has made eight changes to the side that hammered Australia a fortnight ago and even White’s depleted Boks will give themselves a chance against an All Blacks team that, with the exception of Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Chris Jack, has a definite second string feel about it.
Few of his stars from the Wallabies win even make the match 22. They have been saved for the Wallabies in Brisbane a week later.
The biggest selection is the recall of former All Blacks captain Rueben Thorne, who starts a test at home for the first time since 2003. He replaces Collins.
Doug Howlett and Scott Hamilton come in on the wings, Sam Tuitupou replaces Mauger at inside centre and Piri Weepu plays scrumhalf with Kelleher dropping out of the 22 altogether.
Up front Ali Williams comes in to partner Chris Jack at lock, and Neemia Tialata and Anton Oliver join Carl Hayman in the revamped front row.
“The changes help to keep all of our players physically and mentally sharp,” said All Blacks coach Graham Henry. “We hope that can provide an edge for us against South Africa this weekend and for the Tri Nations series as a whole.”
Henry said that the number of changes was more than the selectors had initially planned: “We were encouraged by the way we played against Australia and we hope to maintain form while using more of the talent we have available in the squad.”
This side is very similar to the one that plodded its way to a 25-19 win against the Pumas in Buenos Aires.
All Blacks: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Mils Muliaina, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Piri Weepu; 8 Rodney So’oialo, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Anton Oliver, 1 Neemia Tialata. Subs: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Greg Somerville, 18 Greg Rawlinson, 19 Chris Masoe, 20 Jimmy Cowan; 22 Luke McAlister and Isaia Toeava