27 Jul 2010

Weepu benched for Cowan, Rokocoko back on the wing

6:54 pm on 27 July 2010

The All Blacks selectors have made just two changes to the starting lineup named to tackle the Wallabies in the opening Bledisloe Cup Test in Melbourne on Saturday.

Joe Rokocoko returns to the left wing after recovering from a hamstring strain and it's back to the bench for one of the form halfbacks in the Tri-Nations after Piri Weepu's big baby week.

The All Black and Wellington No.9 became a father for the first time on Sunday after starring for New Zealand in the second Test against South Africa in the capital - but it's cost him his starting spot.

He missed the first training session in Melbourne with Jimmy Cowan controlling things and as expected Weepu's now missed out on a second straight start with coach Graham Henry happy for him to revert to his impact role off the bench.

Henry says that gives Weepu some time to settle as they've tweaked a few things in training.

If he'd been there all week without having a child, the coach is sure he could've started.

Rokocoko's return will be a significant milestone - Rokocoko will play in his 64th Test, moving ahead of All Blacks greats John Kirwan and Jonah Lomu as the most capped All Blacks winger of all time.

Tony Woodcock will also join Greg Sommerville as the most-capped prop in New Zealand history with 66 Tests.

As expected flanker Victor Vito's on the bench.

Team: 15-Mils Muliaina, 14-Cory Jane, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma'a Nonu, 11-Joe Rokocoko, 10-Daniel Carter, 9-Jimmy Cowan, 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Tom Donnelly, 4-Brad Thorn, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Keven Mealamu, 1-Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: 16-Corey Flynn, 17-Ben Franks, 18-Sam Whitelock, 19-Victor Vito, 20-Piri Weepu, 21-Aaron Cruden, 22-Israel Dagg