Blacks bring out big guns

New Zealand have resisted the urge to rest their stars for their Test against Wales on Saturday.

Rumours suggesting that key players like Dan Carter and Richie McCaw would be rested have proven unfounded as Graham Henry selected a formidable team for the Cardiff encounter.

Every one of Henry’s squad members have been outstanding on their year-end tour and as a result the line between who exactly constitutes his best run-on team has been blurred.

Ma’a Nonu loses out as Luke McAlister and Conrad Smith pair up in midfield, resulting in a shift back to fullback for Mils Muliaina.

Joe Rokocoko, whose form has been a throwback to his rookie season, is replaced by the equally lethal Rico Gear while Neemia Tialata, Anton Oliver and Keith Robinson come into the pack.

“This is the team best suited to play Wales,” All Blacks coach Graham Henry told BBC Sport.

“The Welsh play a different style to the French and the match will be played in different conditions. We’ve made changes accordingly.”

New Zealand

15 Mils Muliaina
14 Rico Gear
13 Conrad Smith
12 Luke McAlister
11 Sitiveni Sivivatu
10 Dan Carter
9 Byron Kelleher
8 Rodney So’oialo
7 Richie McCaw (capt)
6 Jerry Collins
5 Ali Williams
4 Keith Robinson
3 Carl Hayman
2 Anton Oliver
1 Neemia Tialata


16 Andrew Hore
17 Tony Woodcock
18 James Ryan
19 Reuben Thorne
20 Piri Weepu
21 Nick Evans
22 Ma’a Nonu