All Blacks coach Graham Henry has emphasised once again the World Cup of 2007 is what motivates every team selection. Hence the eight changes to the team that walloped the Wallabies.
Questioned again because of the rotation policy, Henry reminded the New Zealand media that the bigger picture since his appointment has always been the World Cup.
And to win the World Cup he felt New Zealand needed 30 players capable of playing test rugby.
“We might win on Saturday by keeping to the same 15, that might give us an even greater chance, but it might not bring the carrot that we’re looking for (in World Cup success),” Henry declared.
“The major thing is that through the campaigns now until the end of the World Cup, we’re a team of 30 players. We’ve just got to make sure that we keep the 30 on edge and involved. If you pick 22 guys and have eight sitting around doing nothing for a campaign you’re not going to get the unity in the group that you need to win a Rugby World Cup … you’re not going to get the commitment from those eight.”
The biggest talking point is the return to test rugby of Rueben Thorne, who won 23 and few one of his 28 tests as captain of John Mitchell’s All Blacks. Thorne has not played a home test since 2003.
Forwards coach Steve Hansen said Thorne deserved his chance: “He’s playing really good rugby … he had a great Super 14.”
Hansen also stressed that the All Blacks would never underestimate the Springboks.
“They are a formidable foe,” said Hansen. “They will be very, very angry sitting in their hotel thinking about that game. They won’t need too much motivation other than that.”