7 Sep 2011

Dagg selected ahead of Muliaina for All Blacks opener

6:50 pm on 7 September 2011

The All Blacks coach has named Sonny Bill Williams at second five-eighth and selected Israel Dagg ahead of Mils Muliaina for the opening Rugby World Cup match against Tonga.

Dagg had been tipped to replace Muliaina after a superb return from injury to top class rugby in South Africa in August.

Coach Graham Henry says Muliaina has been one of the top fullbacks in the world for some time but has been having a bit of a flat patch.

He says Dagg's selection doesn't men he's the first-choice fullback and both Mils and Israel are competing for that position.

Sonny Bill Williams gets a start at second five-eighth for the match at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

He will partner Ma'a Nonu in the centres, while Isaia Toeava is on the left wing and Richard Kahui on the right.

Captain Richie McCaw will earn his 99th test cap at Eden Park and move ahead of Muliaina in the race to be the first All Blacks' player to achieve the 100-test milestone.

The All Blacks have played Tonga twice in previous Rugby World Cups, winning 45-9 in 1999 and 91-7 in 2003.

The full team:

Starting XV

1 Tony Woodcock

2 Andrew Hore

3 Owen Franks

4 Brad Thorn

5 Ali Williams

6 Jerome Kaino

7 Richie McCaw - captain

8 Victor Vito

9 Jimmy Cowan

10 Daniel Carter

11 Isaia Toeava

12 Sonny Bill Williams

13 Ma'a Nonu

14 Richard Kahui

15 Israel Dagg


16 Corey Flynn

17 Ben Franks

18 Anthony Boric

19 Sam Whitelock

20 Piri Weepu

21 Colin Slade

22 Cory Jane