All Blacks fringe given chance

All Blacks fringe given chance
By Reuters

18/08/2011 at 16:01Updated 18/08/2011 at 16:04

New Zealand coach Graham Henry remained true to his word to give as many players as possible a chance to press for inclusion in his World Cup squad when he named the All Blacks side for their Tri-Nations Test against South Africa.

Full-back Israel Dagg and utility back Isaia Toeava will both start against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth on Saturday in perhaps their last chance to impress Henry at Test level after recovering from long-term leg injuries.

Fly-half Colin Slade will also start the match to press his claim as Dan Carter's rightful understudy in his fifth Test, with regular scrum-half Piri Weepu named as his replacement.

Loosehead prop Tony Woodcock also returns after a long-term foot injury, while fellow front rower John Afoa has recovered from a fractured eye socket that he sustained against the Springboks in Wellington last month.

They join stand-in captain Keven Mealamu in an all-Auckland Blues front row. Henry elected to rest regular captain Richie McCaw and fly-half Carter for the South Africa tour.

"There is excitement across the board in the squad and every player will be looking to put in a big performance this weekend," Henry said.

"Playing the Springboks at home is always a massive occasion and with rugby World Cup spots also up for grabs, our players will be looking to put in a big performance."

The Springboks are reduced to playing for pride after losing all three of their matches to be out of the running for the southern hemisphere title.

Team: 15-Israel Dagg, 14-Isaia Toeava, 13-Richard Kahui, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Hosea Gear, 10-Colin Slade, 9-Jimmy Cowan; 8-Liam Messam, 7-Adam Thomson, 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Ali Williams, 4-Sam Whitelock, 3-John Afoa, 2-Keven Mealamu (captain), 1-Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: 16-Andrew Hore, 17-Ben Franks, 18-Jarrad Hoeata, 19-Victor Vito, 20-Andy Ellis, 21-Piri Weepu, 22-Cory Jane.