12 Aug 2011

Eight players rested by All Blacks coaches

7:14 pm on 12 August 2011

New Zealand's first choice team for the Rugby World Cup is becoming clearer - eight players who started last weekend against Australia, including skipper Richie McCaw, are being rested for next Sunday's Tri Nations Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.

84-Test hooker Keven Mealamu will captain the side, while Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Mils Muliaina, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Conrad Smith, and Sitiveni Sivivatu also sit out the penultimate fixture before the World Cup starts next month.

Israel Dagg, Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford, Richard Kahui and Cory Jane get to press their claims further for the limited backline spaces while Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Liam Messam and Victor Vito do the same in the forwards.

Loosehead prop Tony Woodcock's set to pack down against a full-strength Springbok pack, despite just 40 minutes of provincial rugby following an injury break that lasted more than three months.

The All Blacks fly out to South Africa tomorrow, without Dagg and Guildford who will play for Hawke's Bay against Bay of Plenty in Rotorua on Saturday and travel on Sunday morning.

The full squad is: Forwards: John Afoa, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Jarrad Hoeata *, Andrew Hore, Jerome Kaino, Keven Mealamu, Liam Messam, Adam Thomson, Samuel Whitelock, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock and Victor Vito.

Backs: Jimmy Cowan, Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford, Richard Kahui, Cory Jane, Ma'a Nonu, Colin Slade, Isaia Toeava, Piri Weepu and Sonny Bill Williams.