Monday, December 7, 2009

Top guns rested for Baa-Baas clash

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw will lead a second-string side in Saturday's season-ending match against the Barbarians at Twickenham.

As expected, the All Black management have given their back-up players on tour a chance to impress.

Those given a rest for the final week were Dan Carter, Mils Muliaina, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Kieran Read, Jerome Kaino, Tom Donnelly, Tony Woodcock and Owen Franks.

Although the match against the invitational side does not count as a full Test, the decision to leave out top players could still threaten the All Blacks' unbeaten tour record.

New Zealand beat Australia in Tokyo before defeating Wales, Italy, England and France.

The Barbarians team is yet to be finalised, but is already shaping up as an alternate World XV under the tutelage of Italy coach Nick Mallett.

McCaw and Cory Jane, who shifts from wing to full-back, were the only survivors from the starting line-up who beat France 39-12 in Marseille last weekend.

The only players yet to start a match on this tour - fly-half Stephen Donald and prop John Afoa - were also rewarded with run-on spots against a powerful Barbarians side.

Three tour debutants earned starting berths - wingers Zac Guildford and Ben Smith and centre Tamati Ellison - while the fourth newcomer, Mike Delany, will get time off the bench.

New Zealand: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Rodney So'oialo, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 John Afoa, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Adam Thomson, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Sitiveni Sivivatu.

Date: Saturday, December 5
Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France, David Changleng (Scotland)
TMO: Andrew Turner (England), Graham Hughes (England)

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