November 09, 2012
  Follow @ Twitter

All Blacks ring changes for Scotland Test

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made wholesale changes to the New Zealand team to face Scotland on Sunday, recalling the out-of-form Piri Weepu and introducing a new midfield line-up.

With Hansen intent on giving all of his 32-man squad a run in the opening two Tests of New Zealand's European tour, only five players from the All Blacks' last outing against Australia were included in the starting 15.

Weepu, who struggled for form with the Auckland Blues in the Super 15 competition, was handed a chance of redemption, replacing Aaron Smith at scrum-half for the Test at Murrayfield.

Hansen also named veteran hooker Andrew Hore in the starting line-up and gave Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Dane Coles the opportunity to earn their debut caps from an expanded eight-man reserve bench.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the inclusion of Otago Highlanders duo Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith together in midfield for the first time at the expense of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

While Ellison and Ben Smith are relatively inexperienced at Test level, with 12 caps between them compared to Nonu and Conrad Smith's 136, they have worked well together at the Highlanders, hinting that Hansen is looking to the future.

The All Blacks chief resisted the temptation to rest captain Richie McCaw and star fly-half Dan Carter, pointing out that the starting team was still a strong side boasting 556 Test caps, backed up by 267 on the bench.

He said his charges were excited about playing in front of a packed house at Murrayfield and downplayed Scotland's poor record against New Zealand, with the All Blacks posting 26 wins and two draws in 28 meetings.

"We've had a good build-up this week and the key for us has been to get our preparation spot on so we can put in a performance in Sunday which we are proud of," he said.

"However, we know the Scots will lift for this Test match and we expect them to be very combative."

New Zealand enter the tour undefeated in 17 matches, although their hopes of breaking international rugby's 18-game record for consecutive Test victories was scuppered by an 18-18 draw with Australia last month.

After Sunday's Test, they play Italy on November 17, Wales on November 24 and England on December 1.

The All Blacks team named Friday for a one-off Test against Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday (1430 GMT kick-off):

New Zealand 15-1
Israel Dagg; Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison, Julian Savea; Daniel Carter, Piri Weepu; Victor Vito, Richie McCaw (captain), Adam Thomson; Samuel Whitelock, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Wyatt Crockett.

Dane Coles, Tony Woodcock, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Ma'a Nonu.


Football Live

Djokovic fights back to beat old rival Murray
Mendis stars in Sri Lanka win

Post a Comment
Bookmark and Share


Posted Comments
No comments, but you can post the first comment!



Namaka, 4R through to NCC finals
Last seasonís runners up Namaka FC of Nadi and former champs 4R Electric FC of Ba have progressed to next weekendís Rooster National Club Championship finals after topping their respective pools in Western zone playoff today.
Fiji U20 wallops PNG in opener
The Vodafone Fiji U20 side opened its campaign on a positive note and walloped Papua New Guinea 63-0 at the ANZ Stadium in Suva last night.
High Court acquits Colombian national
The High Court in Suva has acquitted Colombian national Aiden Alec Hurtado from charges of unlawful importation of 20.5 kg of illicit drugs namely cocaine into Fiji last year.
Obama unveils gun violence proposals
President Barack Obama today demanded an assault weapons ban and universal background checks for gun buyers, stoking a generational clash with the firearms lobby after the Newtown school massacre.
Afghan street kid heads for the Oscars red carpet
An Afghan street kid is off to Hollywood and the red-carpet treatment at the Oscars -- a fairytale ending to a chance encounter that led to a starring role in a movie.
Online registration for foreign investors
Fiji will soon launch online registration and approvals system for foreign investors.