Italy v New Zealand, Milan, November 14
Delany ready for All Black bow
November 11, 2009
Mike Delany is set for his international bow © Getty Images
Bay of Plenty fly-half Mike Delany will make his All Black debut on Saturday and has received the seal of approval from assistant coach Wayne Smith.
Delany slots in to the space vacated by the suspended Dan Carter against Italy at a sold-out San Siro in Milan. At 27 he is a late bloomer, having not represented New Zealand at age-grade level and featured mainly from the bench at Super 14 level with the Chiefs.
A running fly-half, he offers a different style to Carter and Stephen Donald and will marshal a side showing plenty of changes from the one that defeated Wales in Cardiff last weekend. Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith are also set for debuts while there are returns for North Harbour duo Luke McAlister and Anthony Boric.
McAlister partners Ellison in the centre, with Smith joining Sitiveni Sivivatu and fullback Cory Jane in the back-three. Liam Messam and Tanerau Latimer also start, with Rodney So'oialo returning to captain the side at No.8. Regular skipper Richie McCaw is on the bench. Corey Flynn starts at hooker, while props Wyatt Crockett and Neemia Tialata have been retained.
"You can point to a Frank Bunce or a Joe Stanley to say life doesn't have to begin at 19 in the All Blacks. There's still a career path for 27-28 year olds," said Smith of Delany. "We did a bit of research, talked to (Chiefs coach Ian Foster) about him and got some really good feedback and it made us look at him even closer, and here he is.
"He presented the game-plan this morning with (scrum-half) Andy Ellis and he did that really well. He's a mature player who should handle it."
Ellison has waited patiently for his chance at international level, with a troublesome calf injury curtailing his progress during the Tri-Nations.
"He'll be hungry, he's nearly made it a couple of times," Smith said. "You've got Liam Messam who's made a comeback and Luke McAlister who was frustrated with his game against Italy in New Zealand and he's got an opportunity now to put that right.
"There are a lot of reasons for these boys to be right on edge. There is a buzz, and part of it is being in Milan; it's a new venue, a sold out San Siro, it's a famous stadium and that's really enthused the boys. Now we've got to put that on the track and make sure we're passionate and aggressive like we were against Wales. That's the key for us."
New Zealand: Cory Jane; Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison, Luke McAlister, Sitiveni Sivivatu; Mike Delany, Andy Ellis; Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn, Neemia Tialata, Tom Donnelly, Anthony Boric, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Rodney So'oialo (capt)
Replacements: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Jason Eaton, Richie McCaw, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Mils Muliaina