Muliaina and Read returns for All Blacks
September 29, 2011
Veteran Mils Muliaina will win his 99th Test cap against the Canucks on Sunday © Getty Images
New Zealand have opted to rotate their options for their Rugby World Cup pool clash with Canada in Wellington on Sunday.
The starting XV features the return of Mils Muliaina at fullback for what will be his 99th Test appearance and as a result Israel Dagg moves to the right wing in the place of Cory Jane. Sonny Bill Williams comes into inside centre for his fifth Test start with Ma'a Nonu rested while scrum-half Jimmy Cowan gets the No.9 jersey in what will be his 50th Test match with Piri Weepu providing cover on the bench.
In the forwards, Kieran Read returns to the back of the scrum after recovering from his ankle sprain with Adam Thomson missing out. It will be Read's first World Cup start and he will pack down alongside blindside Jerome Kaino and captain Richie McCaw. Elsewhere, Andrew Hore has been named at hooker with Keven Mealamu dropping to the bench and Ali Williams will start at lock in the place of Brad Thorn who is also rested.
All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said: "We are looking to improve each week during the Rugby World Cup, with an increase in intensity and execution, and we will be looking to do that again this week. Having said that, the Canadians have shown in this Rugby World Cup just what they are capable of, including a good win over Tonga and the hard-fought draw against Japan, so we are expecting a passionate contest."
As well as the 50-Test milestone for Cowan, Henry, Hansen and Smith will celebrate their 100th All Blacks Test together as a coaching trio. The All Blacks have played Canada four times, including twice at Rugby World Cup: in 1991 in the Quarterfinal and in 2003 in Pool Play.
New Zealand: Mils Muliaina; Israel Dagg, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Zac Guildford; Daniel Carter, Jimmy Cowan; Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Samuel Whitelock, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read
Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Brad Thorn, Anthony Boric, Piri Weepu, Colin Slade, Isaia Toeava
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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