All Black coach Graham Henry has named an unchanged starting XV for when New Zealand play Australia in the Tri-Nations decider at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that the team does show three changes from that which smashed a third-rate Samoan side 101-14 last week – Richie McCaw returning as openside flank in place of Adam Thomson and reclaiming the captaincy from Rodney So’oialo, Brad Thorn back at lock in place of Anthony Boric and Sitiveni Sivivatu in on the wing for the injured Anthony Tuitavake.
However, it is the same XV that started in the 19-0 whitewash of South Africa in Cape Town last month – New Zealand’s last Tri-Nations Test.
Henry will only make a decision on the team’s reserve prop on Friday – as John Afoa’s recovery from a shoulder injury is monitored. He has been bracketed with Neemia Tialata on the bench.
Henry said he was expecting Australia to bounce back from their record 8-53 humiliation at the hands of South Africa in Johannesburg 10 days ago.
“It’s a very competitive Tri-Nations series this year,” Henry said.
“Every match has been more important than the one before it and this Test decides the Championship.
“So we’re trying to make sure we get our preparation exactly right.
“Australia’s last result was out-of-character and we expect a real battle,” added Henry.
New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Richard Kahui, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Rodney So’oialo, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 John Afoa/ Neemia Tialata, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Isaia Toeava.