Rugby World Cup
McCaw set for landmark appearance
ESPNscrum Staff
September 14, 2011
All Blacks flanker Richie McCaw stretches the Wales defence, Wales v New Zealand, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, November 27, 2010
McCaw will become the first New Zealand player to notch 100 Test appearances when he leads the side out against Japan on Friday night © Getty Images

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw is set to become the first player to rack up 100 appearances for the All Blacks after being named in the side for the Rugby World Cup pool clash with Japan in Hamilton on Friday night.

McCaw will lead a side that shows eight changes to that which beat Tonga 41-10 in the tournament opener in Auckland last Friday with fullback Mils Muliana, winger Cory Jane, centre Conrad Smith, scrum-half Andy Ellis, flanker Adam Thomson, lock Sam Whitelock, hooker Keven Mealamu and Colin Slade, a late addition to the side following the late withdrawal of Dan Carter because of a back problem, all returning.

On the eve of the game, All Blacks head coach Graham Henry has saluted McCaw's contribution to New Zealand rugby. "Richie is a very special man," he said. "He provides inspiration to New Zealanders because of his total commitment to enhancing the reputation of New Zealand through the success of the All Blacks team.

"He is incredibly brave, skilful and a hugely intelligent player who has the total respect of his team through the many deeds and successes he has achieved on the rugby field, and his ability to lead from the front.

"On behalf of the All Blacks coaches, management and fellow players, I would like to congratulate him on being the first player in All Blacks history to achieve 100 Tests - a truly remarkable milestone."

Henry added that the All Blacks were under no illusions about how much of a challenge Japan would be, after watching their effort against France in their opening match. "There is no doubt that they are a very good team and well coached by John Kirwan and Mick Byrne. They are physical at the breakdown, play the game at speed and will be a real threat if we let them play like that so we will have to be on top of our game."

Meanwhile, it will also be a special milestone this weekend for one of the team's other leaders, Smith, with the centre playing in his 50th Test.

Revised New Zealand: Mils Muliaina; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Richard Kahui; Colin Slade, Andy Ellis; Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks; Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock; Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (capt), Adam Thomson.

Replacements: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Ali Williams, Victor Vito, Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu, Sonny Bill Williams.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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