20 Jul 2011

Fiji a real Test for fringe All Blacks

7:10 pm on 20 July 2011

Sitiveni Sivivatu, Zac Guildford and Ben Smith are on notice from the All Blacks coaches - perform well in the Fiji Test or you may not get another shot at a World Cup spot.

The three are competing for places in the back three at international level with the injured Hosea Gear, Isaia Toeava and Israel Dagg.

Sivivatu and Guildford will start while Smith's on the bench for Friday night's Test in Dunedin. Head coach Graham Henry says it's tough competition in the back three to make the final 30 for the Cup in September.

Henry says those players who've got an opportunity through injury are only going to get one or two chances to impress for a World Cup spot, so they'd better take them.

Henry also says the selectors will probably only take five back three players and maybe a centre who can cover at wing or fullback, and a class act like Joe Rokocoko has already missed the cut so it's pretty competitive.

The 61-Test veteran Ali Williams returns to partner Highlanders and Taranaki lock Jared Hoeata in the second row at Carisbrook.

Hoeata's the only new cap named while Colin Slade gets his first Test start at first-five with Dan Carter on the bench.

Ali Williams returns at lock and Wyatt Crockett's the starting loosehead prop.