21 Oct 2011

No changes for ABs for Cup final

9:04 am on 21 October 2011

The All Blacks coach Graham Henry has named an unchanged starting XV to face France in the World Cup final - possibly the last New Zealand team he'll be involved with as head coach.

The only change from the side that beat Australia in the semi-final comes on the bench with the versatile loose forward Adam Thomson replacing Victor Vito, after Thomson recovered from an ankle injury.

It's also the final Test for lock Brad Thorn and assistant coach Wayne Smith.

Once again it's a hugely experienced team, with 708 caps in the starting side, which is again captained by flanker Richie McCaw in his 103rd Test.

A number of milestones will be achieved this weekend with McCaw and fellow loose forwards Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read becoming the most-capped loose forward trio in All Blacks history, playing their 21st Test together, one more than the trio of McCaw, Rodney So'oialo and Jerry Collins.

Keven Mealamu will play in his 92nd Test joining All Blacks great Sean Fitzpatrick as the most capped All Blacks hooker of all time and the joint third most capped All Black behind McCaw and Mils Muliaina.

The All Blacks have played France 50 times since 1906, with 37 wins to the All Blacks, 12 to France and the one draw.

Starting XV:

1. Tony Woodcock (82)

2. Keven Mealamu (91)

3. Owen Franks (30)

4. Brad Thorn (58)

5. Samuel Whitelock (24)

6. Jerome Kaino (47)

7. Richie McCaw - captain (102)

8. Kieran Read (35)

9. Piri Weepu (55)

10. Aaron Cruden (8)

11. Richard Kahui (16)

12. Ma'a Nonu (65)

13. Conrad Smith (54)

14. Cory Jane (30)

15. Israel Dagg (11)


16. Andrew Hore (61)

17. Ben Franks (15)

18. Ali Williams (72)

19. Adam Thomson (24)

20. Andy Ellis (25)

21. Stephen Donald (22)

22. Sonny Bill Williams (13)

Number of Test caps in brackets