New Zealand v Australia, Tri-Nations, September 19
Battle lines drawn for Bledisloe No.3
September 16, 2009
All Blacks lock Tom Donnelly smiles during training, New Zealand training session, Rugby League Park, Wellington, New Zealand, September 16, 2009
Otago lock Tom Donnelly will make his long-awaited All Blacks debut in Wellington on Saturday © Getty Images

All Blacks coach Graham Henry and his Wallabies counterpart Robbie Deans have taken distinctly different approaches to this weekend's clash in Wellington.

With his side's Tri-Nations hopes vanquished by the Springboks in Hamilton last weekend, Henry has opted to ring the changes safe in the knowledge that the sizeable Bledisloe Cup silverware is already in the bag thanks to their victories in Auckland and Sydney earlier this year.

In what could be seen as a major overhaul, the All Blacks line-up will feature five new faces and two further positional changes that Henry hopes will help his side improve a woeful recent record that has seen them lose four or eight Test clashes.

There are three changes up front, with a major surprise being the omission of lock Isaac Ross, replaced by Otago new cap Tom Donnelly. Prop Neemia Tialata and flanker Adam Thomson both earn recalls, for Owen Franks and Jerome Kaino respectively.

In the backline, Cory Jane comes on to the right wing, pushing Joe Rokocoko to the left in place of the injured Sitiveni Sivivatu. There is another shuffle in the midfield, where Stephen Donald is omitted and Ma'a Nonu moves in one spot to inside centre, with Isaia Toeava named at outside centre.

In contrast, Deans has named an unchanged side in the hope his Wallabies can repeat the strong showing that accounted for the Springboks 21-6 in their last encounter in Brisbane.

The only doubts were over hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and winger Lachie Turner, both carrying rib injuries, but they came through contact sessions earlier this week to prove their fitness. Waratahs fly-half Kurtley Beale will travel as 23rd man as cover for Turner.

It means Deans' exciting young backline get another chance to show their wares, with youngsters James O'Connor and Will Genia named to start again at fullback and halfback respectively after impressive displays in Brisbane. Utility Adam Ashley Cooper will remain at centre in the absence of the injured Stirling Mortlock.

The new-look front row of Polota-Nau, Ben Alexander and Benn Robinson remained intact after a powerful showing against the Boks. Captain George Smith stays at No.8, with young Western Force flanker David Pocock earning another start at openside and Wycliff Palu again on the bench.

New Zealand: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Isaia Toeava, Ma'a Nonu, Joe Rokocoko, Daniel Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Adam Thomson, Tom Donnelly, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: Aled de Malmanche, John Afoa, Jason Eaton, Rodney So'oialo, Brendon Leonard, Stephen Donald, Hosea Gear

Australia: James O'Connor, Lachie Turner, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Will Genia, George Smith (captain), David Pocock, Rocky Elsom, Mark Chisholm, James Horwill, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.

Replacements: Stephen Moore, Pek Cowan, Dean Mumm, Wycliff Palu, Luke Burgess, Quade Cooper, Peter Hynes.


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