Muliaina back for All Blacks
June 22, 2010
Veteran Mils Muliaina will be back in black against Wales this weekend © Getty Images
Mils Muliaina's return at fullback is one of seven changes to New Zealand's starting line-up for Saturday's second Test against Wales.
Muliaina, a veteran of 82 Tests, has recovered from a calf strain and replaces the injured Israel Dagg (concussion) in a new-look back three that also sees Zac Guildford come in on the left wing in place of Joe Rokocoko.
Daniel Carter has been named in the starting line-up despite suffering a tight calf and although Graham Henry said he was "hopeful" his star fly-half would be fit to start, he confirmed Aaron Cruden would step up if the 68-Test pivot failed to recover in time. The other change in the back line sees Richard Kahui replace Conrad Smith (eye) in the centre after a strong comeback on the wing in the 42-9 win at Carisbrook.
Injuries have also forced Henry's hand in the pack with lock Tom Donnelly, who came through a club rugby fixture last weekend after a long spell out with a fractured foot, in for Anthony Boric (fractured cheekbone) and Jerome Kaino, who has recovered from his calf injury, replacing Victor Vito. The front row has also been given a revamp with veterans Tony Woodcock and Neemia Tialata replacing the Franks brothers Ben and Owen, respectively.
Owen Franks drops to the bench where he is joined by Rene Ranger, who was only called into the squad as cover for Dagg and Smith on Monday and will make his international debut if called into action.
"With both Conrad and Israel unavailable through injury, Rene now gets his chance at Test level," said Henry. "He was a stand-out player in the Super 14 and he was also impressive for the Barbarians against New Zealand Maori."
As for Wales, Henry felt the side would be hurting after last weekend's loss, their 23rd in 26 Tests against the All Blacks. "They will come out firing again this weekend so we will have to be ready to meet them," the former Wales boss said. "They are a proud rugby side and we are expecting another physical Test match at Waikato Stadium."
New Zealand: Mils Muliaina (Chiefs); Cory Jane (Hurricanes), Richard Kahui (Chiefs), Benson Stanley (Blues), Zac Guildford (Crusaders); Daniel Carter (Crusaders), Jimmy Cowan (Highlanders); Tony Woodcock (Blues), Keven Mealamu (Blues), Neemia Tialata (Hurricanes), Brad Thorn (Crusaders), Tom Donnelly (Highlanders), Jerome Kaino (Blues), Richie McCaw (Crusaders), Kieran Read (Crusaders).
Replacements: Aled de Malmanche (Chiefs), Owen Franks (Crusaders), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders), Adam Thomson (Highlanders), Piri Weepu (Hurricanes); Aaron Cruden (Hurricanes), Rene Ranger (Blues).
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action