Graham Henry has chopped seven of the starting XV from the 20-15 defeat against Australia for Saturday’s Vodacom Tri Nations test against the Springboks in Christchurch.
Henry will never use the word axe, but it doesn’t mean we can’t.
He prefers rotation, but it is clear he wanted to give some of his stars, most notably Jerry Collins, a shake-up ahead of the Tri Nations finale against the Wallabies in a week’s time.
Henry had promised to play his strongest starting line-up in every Tri Nations test, but he has made five and seven changes respectively for the last two tests.
And when he names the side for Australia, there will be between five and seven changes again.
Outside of Collins’s demotion to the bench (for Rueben Thorne, who also provides the lock cover), there is no match opportunity for Joe Rokocoko and Aaron Mauger. There is however one last chance for Doug Howlett to make it to the World Cup.
Those missing from Melbourne are Rico Gear, Rokocoko, Mauger, Byran Kelleher, Collins, Troy Flavell and Anton Oliver.
All Blacks: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Piri Weepu; 8 Rodney So’oialo, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Keith Robinson, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock. Reserves: 16 Andrew Hore, 17, Neemia Tialata, 18 Jerry Collins, 19 Chris Masoe, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Conrad Smith, 22 Nick Evans.