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All Blacks set up Aus rematch
NZ rugby tour will kick off in Hong Kong with full strength team.
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2008 11:34 GMT

Ali Williams of the All Blacks is lifted during a training session  in Hong Kong [GALLO/GETTY]
All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter will make a rare appearance at inside centre when New Zealand tackle Australia in Hong Kong on Saturday, the first Bledisloe Cup meeting between the teams outside Australasia.

Coach Graham Henry switched Carter from his regular position to provide understudy Stephen Donald a chance to start a test in the number 10 jersey.

Henry also awarded a first cap to Hosea Gear as a reward for the Wellington wing's outstanding form in New Zealand's National Provincial Championship (NPC), which provided the bulk of players for the team.

Playing well

"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.

Eight of the 15 players chosen to start against Australia featured in last week's NPC final, where Canterbury beat Wellington 7-6.

"Hosea... was the competition's leading try scorer.

"He comes into the team in fantastic form," Henry said.

Saturday's match in Hong Kong is the first leg of a six-game tour for the All Blacks that includes 'Grand Slam' tests against England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

New Zealand will also line up against Ireland's European Cup winner's Munster on November 18.

Henry wants to experiment with some of his less-experienced players but told a news conference the side to play Australia was full-strength.

Rushed in

Prop Greg Somerville was included on the bench after being added to the squad on the weekend as an emergency backup for the injured John Afoa.

The experienced Somerville was originally left out of the squad after deciding to quit New Zealand to play club rugby in England but was rushed in to cover for Afoa, who is still recovering from a knee injury.

"This tour is about building some depth in the team... and I think this tour will allow us to do that, and so hopefully over the next six games we'll have more depth," Henry said.

"When you're playing a side of Australia's quality, you don't want to throw your young guys into the fold straightaway."

Mils Muliaina was chosen to start at fullback although he is yet to arrive in Hong Kong after opting to remain in New Zealand for the birth of his first child, who was born on Tuesday.

Stephen Donald looks to pass a training camp [GALLO/GETTY]
Big occasion

As holders, New Zealand have already retained the Bledisloe Cup for another season after winning two of their three meetings with the Wallabies, but both teams were desperate to win their first clash in Asia.

"Any test match against Australia is a big occasion," Henry said.

"It's the first time this has been done in the history of the game, taking a Bledisloe Cup game away from Australasia, it's a big step and I think the guys are excited about that opportunity."

New Zealand - 15-Mils Muliaina, 14-Hosea Gear, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Dan Carter, 11-Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10-Stephen Donald, 9-Jimmy Cowan, 8-Rodney So'oialo, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Ali Williams, 4-Brad Thorn, 3-Neemia Tialata, 2-Andrew Hore, 1-Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: 16-Keven Mealamu, 17-Greg Somerville, 18-Anthony Boric, 19-Adam Thomson, 20-Piri Weepu, 21-Ma'a Nonu, 22-Isaia Toeava.

Source:
Agencies
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