9 Sep 2011

McCaw says All Blacks can't wait for kick-off

7:40 pm on 9 September 2011

The 2011 Rugby World Cup begins in Auckland on Friday when the All Blacks take on Tonga in the first of 48 games to be played in New Zealand over the next two months.

After a long week of media commitments and public appearances, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw says they can't wait to get into their opening game.

While the All Blacks have been keen to stress all week they have enjoyed the events and the warm reception they received throughout, McCaw said he is pleased the match against Tonga at Eden Park is almost upon them.

McCaw has been involved in two unsuccessful World Cup campaigns, but insists the team is well prepared for this challenge.

McCaw will earn his 99th test cap at Eden Park and move ahead of Mils 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.

Meanwhile, Tonga's captain Finau Maka has been passed fit to lead his side against the All Blacks at Eden Park.

Maka has overcome a troublesome ankle injury and was cleared to take his place as the open side flanker after training well on Thursday night.


All Blacks: Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Victor Vito, Jimmy Cowan, Dan Carter, Isaia Toeava, Sonny Bill Williams, Ma'a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Israel Dagg. Reserves: Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Anthony Boric, Sam Whitelock, Piri Weepu, Colin Slade, Cory Jane.

Tonga: Vungakoto Lilo, Viliame Iongi, Sukanaivalu Hufanga, Andre Ma'ilei, Siale Piutau, Kurt Morath, Taniela Moa, Viliami Ma'afu, Finau Maka (captain), Sione Kalamafoni, Joseph Tuineau, Paino Hehea, Taufa'ao Filise, Aleki Lutui, Soane Tonga'uiha. Reserves: Ephriam Taukafa, Alisona Taumalolo, Kisi Pulu, Sione Timani, Samiu Vahafolau, Samisoni Fisilau, Alipate Fatafehi.