Weepu fills Cowan void for All Blacks
August 3, 2010
Piri Weepu will be back to lead the haka © 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 coach Graham Henry is confident that Mathewson can contribute after a good season with the Blues, also remembering his contribution in a narrow tour win over Munster in 2008.
"He made a difference in that game and helped pull it out of the fire, I thought," Henry said. "He's got a great attitude and he's very competitive. He's got a lot of self-belief and he played well for the Blues, getting out of Piri's shadow. He's a threat around the fringes, which is a very big help in the game we're playing."
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.
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)
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