Richie McCaw will continue his record-breaking spree when he leads a much-changed New Zealand team out against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.The match – the All Blacks’ fourth on their year-end tour and third in their attempt to win another ‘grand slam’ – will see the Kiwi captain, McCaw, and fullback Mils Muliaina play their 93rd Tests.
This will make them the most capped All Blacks of all time, after equalling former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick’s record last weekend in the 49-3 rout of Scotland. As well as McCaw and Muliaina’s milestone, lock Brad Thorn will play his 50th Test in an All Blacks career which began back in 2003. Thorn has been named at lock, despite missing part of Wednesday’s training – when he had ice applied to a troublesome hamstring.
The starting XV features five changes from the team that smashed Scotland: lock Tom Donnelly gets his first start since the All Blacks Test against Australia in Hong Kong, Jerome Kaino returns to blindside flank with Liam Messam moving to the bench, Andy Ellis, who came off the bench last week, starts at scrumhalf, Ma’a Nonu returns to his familiar No.12 jersey partnering Conrad Smith in the centres, with Sonny Bill Williams on the bench, while Cory Jane has recovered from his chest and shoulder injuries and will start on the right wing.
Coach Graham Henry said he wanted to keep changes to the minimum for the sake of continuity.
Meanwhile, the All Blacks reached several milestones in last weekend’s rout of Scotland: Daniel Carter’s try gave the All Blacks exactly 12,000 points in their 470 Tests – and they finished the match with 12,037 points (the All Blacks have scored an average of 25.6 points in all Test matches).
As well, Carter now has 1158 points in Test matches – just 20 points short of Jonny Wilkinson’s 1178 points.
The win in Scotland was also Graham Henry’s 99th Test victory (76 with the All Blacks, 22 with Wales and one with the British & Irish Lions).
The All Blacks have played Ireland 23 times since 1905 with the Irish yet to win a Test.
The last Test against Ireland was the encounter in New Plymouth earlier this year, which the All Blacks won 66–28.
The All Blacks last played Ireland in Dublin in 2008 at Croke Park with the All Blacks 22–3 victors on that occasion.
New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Hikawera Elliot, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 John Afoa, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Liam Messam, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Sonny Bill Williams.Tweet