All Blacks opt for Carter and Donald
September 8, 2009
Dan Carter has retained the All Blacks' No.10 jersey © Getty Images
All Blacks coach Graham Henry has resisted the urge to shift star playmaker Dan Carter in to the centre - instead naming Waikato fly-half Stephen Donald in the No.12 jersey for Saturday's vital Tri-Nations meeting with South Africa in Hamilton.
Donald will make his first start in the centre at any level for six years alongside Ma'a Nonu, who shifts to outside-centre, after injuries ruled Luke McAlister and Conrad Smith out of contention.
Carter won his first 14 caps in the centre and was originally favourite to start there after Henry opted for a combination of Donald and Carter in last season's Bledisloe Cup Test in Hong Kong.
There are no further changes to the starting XV after the All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup in Sydney last time out and Kieran Read has been cleared to start at No.8 despite struggling recently with a knee complaint.
"We'll just have to see how the plot works out on the day. There's no point giving you the plot now because it will be boring on Saturday," said Henry. "Hopefully it will come together well. I think we've learned from that (the Hong Kong Test) and they've learned from that, that they both need to talk a lot.
"Whoever is playing at 10 is inclined to dominate the proceedings and I think both are very good navigators of the team and both have got a lot to offer so we've just got to encourage them both to talk."
On the replacements bench there is a return to All Black colours for Otago flanker Adam Thomson, who has been away from the international stage since breaking his hand against France in the opening Test of the season.
Thomson's inclusion sees Jason Eaton drop out of the 22, blindside Jerome Kaino set to deputise in the second-row if necessary. Isaia Toeava also joins the bench as backline cover although he remains troubled by a gluteal muscle injury.
New Zealand: Mils Muliaina; Joe Rokocoko, Ma'a Nonu, Stephen Donald, Sitiveni Sivivatu; Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino, Isaac Ross, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: Aled de Malmanche, John Afoa, Adam Thomson, Rodney So'oialo, Brendon Leonard, Isaia Toeava, Cory Jane
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter