Williams boost for All Blacks

Ali Williams and Brendon Leonard have been named in the All Blacks starting XV for Saturday’s Test against Italy in Christchurch.

Williams (Achilles) and scrumhalf Leonard (hamstring) have both been declared fit to take their place in the starting line-up, having been given as much time off as they needed to recover from their injuries.

Williams replaces youngster Isaac Ross, who performed well in the two Tests against the French, but drops to the bench. Leonard comes in for Jimmy Cowan, who drops right out of the match 22.

In total, seven changes have been made to the side that started the second Test against France last Saturday.

Chiefs winger Lelia Masaga will make his Test debut on the right wing while 26-year-old Crusaders loosehead Wyatt Crockett will make his first Test start in the front row alongside Keven Mealamu and John Afoa.

Stephen Donald, who suffered a hamstring strain in last weekend’s win over France in Wellington, is replaced by Luke McAlister, while Isaia Toeava will start alongside Ma’a Nonu in midfield.

The loose forward trio of Jerome Kaino, Tanerau Latimer and Kieran Read is unchanged, while Brad Thorn again starts at lock alongside Williams.

New Zealand – 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Brendon Leonard; 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Isaac Ross, 20 George Whitelock, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Cory Jane.