All Black captain Richie McCaw and fullback Mils Muliaina will equal former captain Sean Fitzpatrick’s record of 92 Test caps, after they were announced to play in the game against Scotland this Saturday.
McCaw made his All Black Test debut on 17 November 2001 against Ireland as a fresh-faced 20-year-old and captained the All Blacks for the first time against Wales on the 2004 end-of-year tour, aged just 23. He is already the most capped All Blacks Test captain in history and will extend that record when he leads the side for the 55th time this weekend.
Muliaina joined the national squad in 2003, making his Test debut as a 22-year-old against England in Wellington on 14 June and has also captained the side in three Tests. He has scored 145 points in Tests and, remarkably, will play his first Test against Scotland this weekend.
However, the most contentious selection is his decision to bracket Mealamu with Hikawera Elliot (who would be making his Test debut), pending the outcome of Mealamu’s appeal against the four-week ban imposed by a Six Nations judicial officer.
Meanwhile the New Zealand starting XV sees Liam Messam, who made his Test debut against Scotland in 2008, picked at blindside flank in his fourth Test start, Jimmy Cowan returns at scrumhalf, Conrad Smith is at outside centre and Isaia Toeava comes onto the right wing. There has been a positional switch for Sonny Bill Williams, who will play inside Smith at inside centre.
New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Isaia Toeava, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu/Hikawera Elliot, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 John Afoa, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Ma’a Nonu.
Date: Saturday, November 13
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 17.15 (17.15 GMT)
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Robin Goodliffe (England)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)