26 Nov 2010

Brad Thorn's 50th Test a week late in Cardiff

2:03 pm on 26 November 2010

The All Black forward pack for the final Test of the season will be boosted by the return of hooker Keven Mealamu and veteran lock Brad Thorn, who'll play his 50th test in Cardiff on Sunday morning.

Thorn missed the Ireland Test with a hamstring strain and he'll start with Sam Whitelock in the middle row of a scrum his former Crusaders and now Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has criticised.

But the 35-year-old former league star says he's not bothered by Deans accusing the All Blacks of manipulation and trickery after another expatriate New Zealander, the Wales coach Warren Gatland, began the sniping. Thorn's dismissing it as gamesmanship.

In other changes from the team that beat Ireland, Isaia Toeava is on the right wing in place of Cory Jane, Sonny Bill Williams starts at second-five for Ma'a Nonu and Mealamu returns from suspension at hooker for his 83rd Test.

The starting 15 is: Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read, Jimmy Cowan, Daniel Carter, Hosea Gear, Sonny Bill Williams, Conrad Smith, Isaia Toeava, Mils Muliaina

Reserves: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Daniel Braid, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Ma'a Nonu