Williams dropped from All Blacks

MULTI-TASKING Piri Weepu has slipped into the pivotal halfback duties for the All Blacks' final test before the World Cup.

He heads an entirely new backline for Saturday's clash with the Wallabies in Brisbane while half the pack that was beaten by the Boks last week gets a chance of redemption.

Star fullback at Port Elizabeth, Israel Dagg, misses out on a chance to reproduce that form from the start at Suncorp Stadium as the selectors have gone for their more experienced lineup.

The way coach Graham Henry enthused about Dagg, it seemed a starting role would be found for the versatile outside back.

However Mils Muliaina has returned to fullback for his 98th test to keep pace with captain Richie McCaw's appearances.

Wings Cory Jane who was a reserve and Zac Guildford, who missed selection for the last test, have been bumped up to start and show more of the skills which promoted them into the World Cup squad.

Flanker Adam Thomson, lock Sam Whitelock, hooker Keven Mealamu and prop Tony Woodcock survive from last week's defeat as McCaw and the senior crew arrive to bolster the choices.

Weepu's only start this season was in the 30-14 victory against the Wallabies at Eden Park where he shone for half a match before starting to struggle with the pace of the game.

He filled in as a makeshift five-eighths against the Boks but has been given the prime task of controlling the rhythm of the All Blacks' game on Saturday, testing the fringes of the opposition game and getting in sync with regular backline director Daniel Carter.

No 8 Kieran Read returns for just his second test this winter after being given time out with others like Brad Thorn and Owen Franks after their tortuous playing and travel schedule with the Crusaders.

The enforced leave helped Read enormously although like any athlete he needed convincing.

"You have to look at what is in your best interest and the team and you never want to miss a test match but when you look at the circumstances around travel and all that then you just have to get on the positive side of it," he said.

The reinforcements talked about their plans for the test as they flew from New Zealand to link up with those who had been in Africa. "There was always going to be a bit of heat about this and the Australians probably always targeted this game after what happened a few weeks ago. So it is a good chance to shine in a one-off game and I suppose mark ourselves at this time of the season," Read added.

The new men were not the team saviours, they had to slot in with their teammates to achieve a concerted unity. The group who had been in Africa had to rest before they hoed into a strong physical run today.

The All Blacks would engage the emotion that hung around the selection of the World Cup squad because everyone in that group wanted to start the tests.

Read's return will be marked against that of Radike Samo, the athletic ball-carrier who sparked the Reds, a No 8 who Read noted brought elements to the Wallaby backrow work which had been missing for a while.

The All Blacks trio had been unified at Eden Park, now they needed to regenerate that with Adam Thomson replacing expectant father Jerome Kaino.

Rugged tighthead Franks sees this as the All Blacks' chance to rectify a subdued scrum performance in their last match with the Wallabies. "I think they improved a lot on what people were saying was going to happen and we did not get the outcomes we wanted on their ball," the tighthead prop said. "It was not up to our standards."


15 Mils Muliaina
14 Cory Jane
13 Conrad Smith
12 Ma'a Nonu
11 Zac Guildford
10 Daniel Carter
9 Piri Weepu
8 Kieran Read
7 Richie McCaw
6 Adam Thomson
5 Sam Whitelock
4 Brad Thorn
3 Owen Franks
2 Keven Mealamu
1 Tony Woodcock

Reserves: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Ali Williams, Victor Vito, Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Isaia Toeava.


15 Kurtley Beale
14 A. Ashley-Cooper
13 Anthony Fainga'a
12 Pat McCabe
11 Digby Ioane
10 Quade Cooper
9 Will Genia
8 Radike Samo
7 David Pocock
6 Rocky Elsom
5 James Horwill
4 Dan Vickerman
3 Ben Alexander
2 Stephen Moore
1 Sekope Kepu

Reserves: Saia Fainga'a, Salesi Ma'afu, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Burgess, one TBA.