8 Oct 2015

Injured McCaw to miss Tonga game

11:25 am on 8 October 2015

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has been ruled out of the team's final Rugby World Cup pool match against Tonga in Newcastle.

Charlie Faumuina on the charge against Georgia, supported by Richie McCaw

Charlie Faumuina on the charge against Georgia, supported by Richie McCaw Photo: Photosport

McCaw suffered bruising to his hip, and while coach Steve Hansen said he could have played if it was the quarter-final, they decided it wasn't worth the risk with the All Blacks already qualified.

In the third captaincy change in as many weeks, Kieran Read is named to lead the team, while Sam Cane will start in place of McCaw at openside flanker.

Hansen brought his regular starting props Tony Woodcock and Owen Franks, who were benched last week, back into the starting side.

Prop Charlie Faumuina was not considered because of a tight hamstring.

Winger Julian Savea has been given a rest after his hat-trick against Georgia, Waisake Naholo shifts to the left wing and Nehe Milner-Skudder starts on the other side.

The match shapes as a virtual trial for the starting wingers to determine who will fill the No.14 jersey in the quarter-final, with Savea likely to come back to don his usual No.11 shirt.

Liam Messam is in line to make his first Rugby World Cup appearance after being named on the bench, with Victor Vito given the week off.

All Blacks' midfielder Ma'a Nonu scoring a try in the 2015 Bledisloe Cup test match at Eden Park.

All Blacks' midfielder Ma'a Nonu scoring a try in the 2015 Bledisloe Cup test match at Eden Park. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Nonu to get 100th Test cap

Second five Ma'a Nonu will play his 100th Test after missing out on the opportunity last week.

Nonu, who made his All Blacks debut in 2003, has had 83 Test starts in his stellar career, scored 29 tries and is the most-capped All Blacks second five-eighth.

He will become the sixth All Blacks Test centurion and will line up alongside three of those centurions: hooker Keven Mealamu, prop Tony Woodcock and first-five Daniel Carter.

Hansen said it was a special milestone for Nonu. "He has been an incredibly valued member of our group for a very long time," the coach said. "He plays a special part within the group and loves this team. He and his family will be very proud of everything he's achieved, as we all are of him."

Hansen said the squad had prepared well for the Tonga Test, with a heavy workload on the training pitch and a couple of very physical games.

"But this week we've been looking to freshen the group up and really concentrate on the key parts of our game that we expect will deliver a quality, 80-minute performance on Friday night." he said. "We're now getting to an exciting part of the competition - one game out from knockout footy.

"We know the Tongans will be very physical and bring everything to this final pool match. They're a proud nation who we've faced on a number of occasions. One only has to remember their last pool match against France in 2011 to know that if you don't turn up, they will make life difficult for you."

Hansen said the squad had enjoyed their time in Darlington, north-east England, and were looking forward to the Newcastle Test.

"Playing at St James' Park, the home of Newcastle United, will be a special occasion as there is a lot of history surrounding the park and the club. They've had some great players and coaches over the years - Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley and Kevin Keegan, to name a few - and we look forward to bringing our game to their special home."

New Zealand: 15-Ben Smith, 14-Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma'a Nonu, 11-Waisake Naholo, 10-Dan Carter, 9-Aaron Smith; 8-Kieran Read (c), 7-Sam Cane, 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Luke Romano, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Dane Coles, 1-Tony Woodcock

Reserves: 16-Keven Mealamu, 17-Wyatt Crockett, 18-Ben Franks, 19-Brodie Retallick, 20-Liam Messam, 21-Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22-Beauden Barrett, 23-Sonny Bill Williams

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