New Zealand coach Graham Henry has named four uncapped players in his 22-man squad for Saturday’s Test match against Ireland at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington (kick-off 7.35pm local time/8.35am Irish time).
Anthony Tuitavake will make his Test debut for the All Blacks in Saturday’s game, while three more newcomers – Anthony Boric, Adam Thomson and Stephen Donald – could also make their bows off the replacements bench.
Thanks to his Super 14 form, Blues star Tuitavake will start on the right wing in a team that includes four recalled players – centre Ma’a Nonu, prop John Afoa, lock Brad Thorn and number 8 Jerome Kaino.
More than half of the players in New Zealand’s 2007 World Cup squad have either retired or moved abroad.
The only surviving members from the side that lost 20-18 to France in that memorable World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff are team captain Richie McCaw, full-back Mils Muliaina, winger Sitiveni Sivivatu, out-half Dan Carter, lock Ali Williams and flanker Rodney So’oialo.
Just as Munster dominate the Ireland line-up, there is a quite a Crusaders influence in the Kiwis side.
Carter and Andy Ellis, who impressed in last weekend’s Super 14 final, form the half-back partnership, while Brad Thorn joins his fellow Crusader Ali Williams in the second row.
Commenting on preparations for the game and his team selection, Graham Henry said: “Obviously there is not a lot of time to bed down. But we also looked at who was fit and available, who was raring to go, and some guys are coming off some injuries and need a bit more time.
“It’s about trying to be simple in our gameplan, (telling the players to) grasp that, relax and play well. It’s important we don’t overload them and we don’t over-train them so they’ve got a full tank when they play.”
NEW ZEALAND TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v Ireland, Saturday, June 7, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, kick-off 7.35pm local time/8.35am Irish time (live Sky Sports 1)):
15 – Mils Muliaina (Waikato)
14 – Anthony Tuitavake (North Harbour)
13 – Conrad Smith (Wellington)
12 – Ma’a Nonu (Wellington)
11 – Sitiveni Sivivatu (Waikato)
10 – Dan Carter (Canterbury)
9 – Andy Ellis (Canterbury)
1 – Neemia Tialata (Wellington)
2 – Andrew Hore (Taranaki)
3 – John Afoa (Auckland)
4 – Brad Thorn (Tasman)
5 – Ali Williams (Tasman)
6 – Rodney So’oialo (Wellington)
7 – Richie McCaw (Canterbury) (capt)
8 – Jerome Kaino (Auckland)
16 – Keven Mealamu (Auckland)
17 – John Schwalger (Wellington)
18 – Anthony Boric (North Harbour)
19 – Adam Thomson (Otago)
20 – Jimmy Cowan (Southland)
21 – Stephen Donald (Waikato)
22 – Leon MacDonald (Canterbury)