23 Jul 2009

Rococoko, Leonard in starting line-up for Bloemfontein

8:39 am on 23 July 2009

The All Blacks coach Graham Henry says the decision to replace halfback Jimmy Cowan with Brendan Leonard is probably one of the hardest the selectors have had to make for a while.

Leonard's inclusion is one of two changes to the side to take on the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning, with winger Joe Rokocoko returning in place of Cory Jane.

Henry says Cowan had one of his best tests against the Wallabies last weekend, but Leonard needed a chance.

The coach says Weepu's the game-changer off the bench and Leonard just needed game time, so unfortunately Cowan had to sit this one out.

Henry says while Rokocoko's form hasn't been great this year he's trained well for the last couple of weeks, and he looks ready to produce his best.

The full squad is: 15-Mils Muliaina, 14-Joe Rokocoko, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma'a Nonu, 11-Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10-Stephen Donald, 9-Brendon Leonard, 8-Rodney So'oialo, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Isaac Ross, 4-Brad Thorn, 3-Neemia Tialata, 2-Andrew Hore, 1-Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: 16-Keven Mealamu, 17-Owen Franks, 18-Jason Eaton, 19-Kieran Read, 20-Piri Weepu, 21-Luke McAlister, 22-Cory Jane.