Hosea Gear will make his test debut against the Wallabies on Saturday night, with coach Graham Henry also moving Daniel Carter, the world’s best first-five, to the No 12 jersey.
Xtra Sport’s Neil Reid writes that Henry confirmed his squad of 22 for the Bledisloe Cup test just hours after landing in Hong Kong.
Gear will start on the right wing following his first-ever call-up to the All Blacks which came on the back of an outstanding Air New Zealand Cup for Wellington.
Waikato’s Sitiveni Sivivatu will start on the left wing, with the recalled Joe Rokocoko not picked in the match 22.
Mils Muliaina has been named to start at fullback, following uncertainty over his availability due to the pending of his first child.
All Black management allowed Muliaina to stay back in New Zealand to be with his partner until the child was born.
Gear is the only new-cap Henry selected in his 35-strong season-ending tour squad to be named for the Hong Kong clash, the first match of the six-match tour.
“Hosea has been outstanding in the Air New Zealand Cup and was the competition’s leading try scorer,” Henry said.
“He comes into the team in fantastic form.”
Gear will join his elder brother Rico in the All Black ranks.
Carter moves to second-five after playing the first 40 minutes of last week’s clash between the All Black training squad and the Barbarians in the No 12 jersey.
The move will afford the All Blacks with strong kicking options at both first and second-five, something they haven’t been able to boost with Ma’a Nonu’s selection at second-five.
Stephen Donald will start at first-five, having proven his fitness last Wednesday after suffering a rib injury in the Air New Zealand Cup.
Nonu has been relegated to the bench.
“Stephen has taken his opportunities this year and he was influential when he came on in the last Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane and deserves to start,” Henry said.
The injured John Afoa has missed selection after suffering a knee injury while playing against the Barbarians.
His injury has afforded Greg Somerville another test farewell before he heads to the UK to continue his professional career.
The 65-test veteran has been named on the bench, with Henry opting for Tony Woodcock and Neemia Tialata as his starting props.
The All Black line-up includes eight players who played in last weekend’s Air New Zealand Cup final between Canterbury and Wellington.
“There is an element of match hardness in the squad with most players having played Air New Zealand Cup rugby over the last month,” he said.
All Blacks versus Wallabies: 1 Tony Woodcock, 2 Andrew Hore, 3 Neemia Tialata, 4 Brad Thorn, 5 Ali Williams, 6 Jerome Kaino, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 8 Rodney So’oialo, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 10 Stephen Donald, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 12 Daniel Carter, 13 Conrad Smith, 14 Hosea Gear, 15 Mils Muliaina. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Greg Somerville, Anthony Boric, Adam Thomson, Piri Weepu, Ma’a Nonu, Isaia Toeava.Tweet