New Zealand v Wales, Carisbrook, June 19
Vito gets chance in only All Blacks change
June 15, 2010
Victor Vito sprints as the All Blacks get their fitness tested, All Blacks training session, Trusts Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand, June 4, 2010
Victor Vito will make his run-on debut after impressing the coaches © Getty Images

Flanker Victor Vito's promotion for his run-on debut is the solitary change to the All Blacks' starting 15 for the first test against Wales on Saturday.

After making his test debut off the reserves bench just before halftime in the 66-28 win over Ireland last weekend, Vito replaces Jerome Kaino in the No 6 jersey for Saturday's farewell to Carisbrook. There are three changes on the bench, with prop Tony Woodcock replacing Neemia Tialata, flanker Adam Thomson in for Vito with Kaino rested from the 22, and utility Richard Kahui for Zac Guildford.

"We were happy with the win over Ireland but also know that there are areas of our game we need to work on ahead of the Welsh test and that is our focus this week," coach Graham Henry said. "We are expecting real intensity and physicality this weekend, which has been the hallmark of All Blacks-Wales matches in recent years."

Henry had flagged several changes on Sunday but, after an impressive start to the season, largely kept faith with the side who scored nine tries against Ireland. Henry said he wanted to test out his newcomers to see whether they would be worthy Tri-Nations selections, and Vito appears the latest project.

Vito, 23, was closely watched by the All Blacks selectors during his impressive Super 14 season for the Hurricanes and his power, lineout work and ball-carrying ability won him the nod. Thomson was named on the bench despite sitting out the second half of today's training session with a sore back which saw him depart the field for treatment.

All three run-on debutants from last week -- fullback Israel Dagg, second five-eighth Benson Stanley and loosehead prop Ben Franks -- were impressive enough to be granted a second cap.

Dagg's cause was helped by 82-test fullback Mils Muliaina's measured recovery from a calf strain which saw him sit out yesterday's indoor session and most of today's team run at Carisbrook as they trained in an all white strip in support of their soccer compatriots at the World Cup.

Stanley got the nod ahead of Kahui, whose bid for a test jersey was stalled by a chest injury. He proved his fitness with a full match for Te Rapa in Hamilton club rugby last Saturday. If Kahui takes the field it will be his ninth test, and his first since the 29-9 win over Wales in November, 2008, as he endured an injury-plagued 2009.

After a dynamic debut against Ireland, Ben Franks again held off 61-test veteran Woodcock to show he and brother Owen are now seen as the top All Blacks propping combination. On the bench, two-try debutant lock Sam Whitelock and five-eighth Aaron Cruden get a chance to add to their first test caps earned against Ireland.

Prop Tialata and wing Guildford missed the 22 while lock Tom Donnelly wasn't considered due to an ongoing ankle injury.

New Zealand: I Dagg (Highlanders); C Jane (Hurricanes), C Smith (Hurricanes), B Stanley (Blues), J Rokocoko (Blues); D Carter (Crusaders), J Cowan (Highlanders); B Franks (Crusaders), K Mealamu (Blues), O Franks (Crusaders), B Thorn (Crusaders), A Boric (Blues), V Vito (Hurricanes), R McCaw (Crusaders, capt), K Read (Crusaders).

Replacements: A de Malmanche (Chiefs), T Woodcock (Blues), S Whitelock (Crusaders), A Thomson (Highlanders), P Weepu (Hurricanes), A Cruden (Hurricanes), R Kahui (Chiefs)


Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.