29 Jul 2008

Major changes in All Black squad for Eden Park test

6:32 pm on 29 July 2008

The All Blacks selectors have have responded to last weekend's heavy loss to Australia by making wholesale changes to the side for Saturday's rematch at Eden Park.

Richie McCaw returns to the openside flanker's position after injuring an ankle against England six weeks ago, Jerome Kaino moves from number eight to the blindside flank and last Saturday's captain Rodney So'oialo is back in his regular spot at number eight shirt.

Leon McDonald has been named at fullback after injury with Mils Muliaina moving to the right wing in place of Anthony Tuitavake.

Conrad Smith replaces Richard Kahui at centre and links up with his Wellington teammate Ma'a Nonu, who retains his place at second five.

The selectors have bracketed three players at halfback....Jimmy Cowan, Andy Ellis and Piri Weepu are all in the running to start the test and a decision on the fitness of Cowan and Ellis, who have knee and rib injuries respectively, will be made on Thursday.

The hooker spot is also undecided with Andrew Hore and Keven Mealamu bracketed and again a decision will be taken on Hore's hip injury on Thursday.

The full team is: Leon MacDonald, Mils Muliaina, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan or Andy Ellis or Piri Weepu, Rodney So'oialo, Richie McCaw (c), Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Greg Somerville, Andrew Hore or Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.

The Reserves: Andrew Hore or Keven Mealamu, John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Adam Thomson or Daniel Braid, Jimmy Cowan or Andy Ellis or Piri Weepu, Stephen Donald, Richard Kahui.