15 Sep 2011

Richie to play his 100th Test

11:04 am on 15 September 2011

Captain Richie McCaw will play his 100th Test on Friday night after being named to play against Japan in the All Blacks' second World Cup match in Hamilton.

In the changes from the side that beat Tonga, Mils Muliaina starts at fullback, Andy Ellis starts at halfback, Conrad Smith is back at centre outside Ma'a Nonu and Cory Jane is on the right wing.

In the forwards Adam Thomson returns from injury to start at number eight, hooker Keven Mealamu replaces Andrew Hore and lock Sam Whitelock replaces Ali Williams.

The team will again be captained by Richie McCaw, with the iconic player becoming the first All Black to play 100 Tests - a special and historic milestone for the All Blacks skipper.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry has saluted McCaw's contribution to New Zealand rugby saying he provides inspiration to New Zealanders because of his total commitment to enhancing the reputation of New Zealand through the success of the All Blacks team.

Henry says he's incredibly brave, skilful and a hugely intelligent player who has the total respect of his team through the many deeds and successes he has achieved on the rugby field, and his ability to lead from the front.

Henry says the All Blacks are under no illusions about how much of a challenge Japan will be, after watching their effort against France in their opening match.

He says they're physical at the breakdown, play the game at speed and will be a real threat if they let them play like that so they'll have to be on top of theirr game.

Meanwhile, it will also be a special milestone this weekend for one of the team's other leaders, Conrad Smith, with the centre playing in his 50th Test.

Daniel Carter will have to wait to resume his battle with England's Jonny Wilkinson to be the world's leading Test point scorer, after he was initially named then ruled out with a back strain. Carter scored nine points against Tonga, increasing his lead over Wilkinson, who managed eight points against Argentina. Carter is now on 1238 points with Wilkinson 12 points back on 1226.

The All Blacks have played Japan just once in a Test, at the Rugby World Cup in 1995, with two non-Test matches also played in 1987.