Reuters - Tue, 03 Aug 03:27:00 2010
Piri Weepu will start at scrum-half for the All Blacks against Australia in the Tri-Nations Test in Christchurch this weekend after reclaiming his place in the side from the injured Jimmy Cowan.
The return of Weepu, relegated to the bench for last week's 49-28 mauling of the Wallabies in Melbourne after missing part of the build-up because of the birth of his first child, is one of three changes to the New Zealand squad.
"The win on the weekend was very pleasing and the exciting thing is that there is a real desire amongst the players to build on that performance," said All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
"It's good to be back in Christchurch, there's a real Test match buzz in the city and the guys are really looking forward to playing in the re-built AMI Stadium."
All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu, who made his debut as a 21-year-old against England in 2003, is set to reach a milestone by playing his 50th Test.
Prop Tony Woodcock will play his 67th Test, making him the most capped All Black ever in that position.
Cowan's rib injury means a place on the bench for uncapped halfback Alby Mathewson, while dynamic Australian-born back Benson Stanley comes in for Israel Dagg among the replacements.
The All Blacks will be chasing their fourth win in four Tri-Nations tests on Saturday after beating world champions South Africa twice on home soil and claiming their eighth win in a row over Australia last week.
15-Mils Muliaina, 14-Cory Jane, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma'a Nonu, 11-Joe Rokocoko, 10-Daniel Carter, 9-Piri Weepu, 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Tom Donnelly, 4-Brad Thorn, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Keven Mealamu, 1-Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16-Corey Flynn, 17-Ben Franks, 18-Sam Whitelock, 19-Victor Vito, 20-Alby Mathewson, 21-Aaron Cruden, 22-Benson Stanley.