29 Jul 2008

Eight possible changes to All Blacks

2:17 pm on 29 July 2008

The All Blacks are likely to start Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test against Australia at Eden Park with at least eight positional or personnel changes to the team that lost so heavily to the same opponents in Sydney last weekend.

The selectors announced their team this afternoon with question marks over two positions due to injury.

Jimmy Cowan, Andy Ellis and Piri Weepu are bracketed at halfback and a decision on the fitness of Cowan and Ellis will be made on Thursday.

Andrew Hore and Keven Mealamu have also been bracketed at hooker and again a decision will be made on Hore's injured hip on Thursday.

Richie McCaw returns after injury, causing a reshuffle of the loose forwards. Jerome Kaino moves from number 8 to blindside flank and Rodney So'oialo moves the other way from blindside to number 8.

Leon MacDonald is named at fullback with Mils Muliaina going to the right wing and Conrad Smith starts at centre in place of Richard Kahui.

The team is: Leon MacDonald, Mils Muliaina, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan or Piri Weepu or Andy Ellis, Rodney So'oialo, Richie McCaw (c), Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Brad Thorne, Greg Somerville, Andrew Hore or Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.

The Reserves: Andrew Hore or Keven Mealamu, John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Adam Thomson or Daniel Braid, Jimmy Cowan or Andy Ellis or Piri Weepu, Stephen Donald, Richard Kahui.