Weepu rejoins settled All Blacks
August 3, 2010
Piri Weepu returns at scrum-half for the All Blacks © Getty Images
Piri Weepu will replace injured scrum-half Jimmy Cowan in the only change to an All Blacks side seeking more of the same when they face the Wallabies in Christchurch on Saturday.
Cowan has been ruled out with the rib injury which forced him from the field in New Zealand's 49-28 thrashing of Australia in Melbourne last weekend. Weepu's uncapped Wellington team-mate Alby Mathewson takes Weepu's place on the bench as the reserve No.9.
Utility back Benson Stanley replaces Israel Dagg on the bench in the only other change to the 22. All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu will notch his 50th test cap while prop Tony Woodcock is due for his 67th test, becoming the most capped prop in All Blacks history.
The continuity in personnel bodes well for the All Blacks, who have won their first three Tri-Nations matches and extended their run of Bledisloe Cup victories to eight straight in Melbourne. Victory in Christchurch would see New Zealand equal their longest ever winning streak over Australia, a nine-match sequence achieved across the 1930s and '40s.
Waratahs wing Drew Mitchell has retained his place in the Wallabies' starting line-up. Mitchell was sent-off in the reverse fixture, although official Cobus Wessels has been axed from this weekend's encounter for an incorrect call in the first of Mitchell's two yellow cards. Kurtley Beale comes in at fullback, with Adam Ashley-Cooper switching to outside-centre in place of the injured Rob Horne.
Centre Berrick Barnes and hooker Stephen Moore have both been dropped to the bench, meaning a first Test start together for the Faingaa twins, Anthony and Saia. Hard-running midfielder Anthony made his debut as a replacement last time out while his brother, who replaces Moore, will play his seventh Test. They are the first twins to start a Test together for Australia since backline maestros Mark and Glen Ella in 1983.
New Zealand: M Muliaina (Chiefs), C Jane (Hurricanes), C Smith (Hurricanes), M Nonu (Hurricanes), J Rokocoko (Blues), D Carter (Crusaders), P Weepu (Hurricanes), T Woodcock (Blues), K Mealamu (Blues), O Franks (Crusaders), Brad T (Crusaders), T Donnelly (Highlanders), J Kaino (Blues), R McCaw (Crusaders, capt), K Read (Crusaders)
Replacements: C Flynn (Crusaders), B Franks (Crusaders), S Whitelock (Crusaders), V Vito (Hurricanes), A Mathewson (Blues), A Cruden (Hurricanes), B Stanley (Blues)
Australia: K Beale (Waratahs); J O'Connor (Western Force), A Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies), A Faingaa (Reds), D Mitchell (Waratahs); M Giteau (Brumbies), W Genia; B Robinson (Waratahs), S Faingaa (Reds), S Ma'afu (Brumbies), D Mumm (Waratahs), N Sharpe (Western Force), R Elsom (Brumbies, capt), D Pocock (Western Force), R Brown (Western Force)
Replacements: S Moore (Brumbies), J Slipper (Reds), R Simmons (Reds), M Hodgson (Western Force), L Burgess (Waratahs), B Barnes (Waratahs), C Shepherd (Western Force)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (RSA)
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