Muliaina set for 100th Test cap
October 6, 2011
Veteran Mils Muliaina will join team-mate Richie McCaw in the 100 Test cap club on Saturday © Getty Images
All Blacks fullback Mils Muliaina will win his 100th Test cap in Sunday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash against Argentina at Eden Park in Auckland.
The 31-year-old, who made his international debut in 2003, becomes only the second All Black to reach the milestone following captain Richie McCaw who reached a century against France two weeks ago. McCaw returns to the starting XV after missing last week's Test against Canada with a sore foot.
"I want to congratulate Mils on this outstanding achievement," said All Blacks coach Graham Henry who has known Muliaina since he was a schoolboy. "He is a special man and has been a world-class All Black for many years - the consummate professional really - as well as a very influential member of the All Blacks leadership group."
Elsewhere, Ma'a Nonu returns to inside centre, Colin Slade fills the fly-half berth, Piri Weepu gets the nod at scrum-half while Sonny Bill Williams comes onto the right wing. Zac Guildford (hamstring), Israel Dagg (thigh haematoma) and Richard Kahui (hamstring) were unavailable for selection. In the forwards, hooker Keven Mealamu and lock Brad Thorn are also back on duty - replacing Andrew Hore and Ali Williams.
"There has been a real feeling of positive anticipation in the squad this week now that we have finished the pool play rounds and are into the quarter-finals," added Henry. "There is excitement amongst the team and we have had a good build-up on the North Shore this week, but there is also a realisation that this is sudden death, finals rugby.
"We have the utmost respect for Argentina. They showed in their Pool matches, especially against England and Scotland, just how physical their game is, especially at set piece and at the breakdown."
The All Blacks and Argentina have played each other 13 times with 12 wins to the All Blacks and the one draw. The teams have met just once previously at the Rugby World Cup, at Wellington's Athletic Park, in 1987.
New Zealand: Mils Muliaina; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams; Colin Slade, Piri Weepu, Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (c), Kieran Read
Replacements: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Victor Vito, Jimmy Cowan, Aaron Cruden, Isaia Toeava
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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