15 Jul 2009

New Zealand team for Tri-Nations clash named

2:46 pm on 15 July 2009

Stephen Donald will start at first five-eighth for the All Blacks' opening Tri-Nations clash against Australia in Auckland on Saturday, getting the nod ahead of Luke McAlister.

Joe Rokocoko has been dropped to the bench, with Sitiveni Sivivatu returning to the wing following an injury break. Cory Jane is on the other wing.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry says Isaia Toeava was the only squad member who was unavailable because of injury, so the team's management was in the fortunate position of being able to make some real selection choices at key positions.

Henry says team management is pleased with the way Donald has developed since making his debut last year, playing well under difficult circumstances in the two French Tests this year.

Richie McCaw, who returns to the All Blacks starting 15 together with Rodney So'oialo and Sitiveni Sivivatu, will captain the All Blacks in his 71st test and 200th first-class game.

Full team: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Jimmy Cowan, Rodney So'oialo, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Isaac Ross, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock.

Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Jason Eaton, Kieran Read, Piri Weepu, Luke McAlister, Joe Rokocoko.