29 Oct 2008

Henry says Donald deserves a start

5:47 am on 29 October 2008

All Black's coach Graham Henry says Stephen Donald deserves his chance to start at first five eight in Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup test against Australia in Hong Kong.

Donald will start in 10 with Dan Carter outside him at second five eighth.

Henry says Donald has taken his opportunities this year and he was influential when he came on in the last Bledisloe Cup test in Brisbane and deserves to start.

Henry also awarded a first cap to Hosea Gear as a reward for the Wellington wing's outstanding form in the Air New Zealand Cup.

Eight of the 15 players chosen to start against Australia featured in last week's NPC final.

Prop Greg Somerville was included on the bench after being added to the squad on the weekend as an emergency backup for the injured John Afoa.

The experienced Somerville was originally left out of the squad after deciding to quit New Zealand to play club rugby in England but was rushed in to cover for Afoa, who is still recovering from a knee injury.