Cowan and Franks return for All Blacks
August 17, 2010
Scrum-half Jimmy Cowan will be back in black this weekend © Getty Images
New Zealand have drafted Jimmy Cowan and Ben Franks into their starting XV to face South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Cowan sat out New Zealand's last match, the 20-10 win over Australia in Christchurch on August 7, with a rib injury, but his recovery sees Piri Weepu shift to the bench. It will be Ben Franks' third Test start, while his brother drops out of the line-up, with John Afoa moving to the bench. In another bench change, coach Graham Henry and assistant coaches Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith have brought in Israel Dagg to provide outside back cover.
The All Blacks are attempting to wrap up their 10th Tri-Nations crown, with one competition point needed to secure the title.
Henry said the team expected to face a "very different" Springboks side from the one that lost two matches in New Zealand in the opening rounds of the Tri Nations.
"They will be hugely motivated to turn around those results and we are expecting a hugely physical encounter," he said. "Playing the Springboks in Soweto in front of 90,000 plus fans -- it doesn't get much bigger than this. It's going to be a marvellous occasion, a massive challenge and one which the team is really looking forward to."
Hooker Keven Mealamu will join former All Blacks lock Ian Jones as the joint fifth-most capped All Black on Saturday, while Daniel Carter could become New Zealand's highest points scorer against South Africa. He is currently sitting on 207 points, two behind former first five-eighth Andrew Mehrtens.
Joe Rokocoko is one try from equalling former All Blacks fullback Christian Cullen's record of 10 tries scored against South Africa.
New Zealand: M Muliaina (Waikato); C Jane (Wellington), C Smith (Wellington), M Nonu (Wellington), J Rokocoko (Auckland); D Carter (Canterbury), J Cowan (Southland); T Woodcock (North Harbour), K Mealamu (Auckland), B Franks (Tasman), B Thorn (Canterbury), T Donnelly (Otago), J Kaino (Auckland), R McCaw (Canterbury), K Read (Canterbury).
Replacements: P Weepu (Wellington), A Cruden (Manawatu), I Dagg (Hawke's Bay), C Flynn (Canterbury), J Afoa (Auckland), S Whitelock (Canterbury), V Vito (Wellington).
As Scotland decides its future, Scrum Sevens looks at a group of players who transcended rugby both for country and the British & Irish Lions
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup