Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

All Blacks make four changes

Graham Henry

New Zealand coach Graham Henry has made four changes to his starting XI from the team that beat England last weekend for Saturday's Test against Scotland at Murrayfield.

Liam Messam, who made his Test debut against Scotland in 2008, has been picked at blindside flanker in his fourth Test start, Jimmy Cowan returns at scrum-half, Conrad Smith is back at centre and Isaia Toeava comes onto the right wing.

Henry could also be forced into a fifth change after the All Blacks named hooker Keven Mealamu, pending the outcome of the former's appeal against the four-week ban handed down for an apparent headbutt on England's Lewis Moody.

Uncapped Hike Elliot has been listed as his replacement should the appeal fail.

Captain Richie McCaw and full-back Mils Muliaina have been selected and will win their 92nd caps, equalling Sean Fitzpatrick's All Blacks record, as part of a strong New Zealand XV.

Henry told www.allblacks.com: "This is another challenging Test for the All Blacks and our selection reflects that.

"We have huge respect for the Scots and the way they are playing the game.

"They have had some major victories in recent times, including two away wins in Argentina and a win over Ireland this year plus the win over Australia last year, so it should be another absorbing contest between the two teams."

There has been a positional switch for Sonny Bill Williams, who will play inside Smith at second five-eighth.

Experienced hooker Andrew Hore has been named among the replacements following shoulder surgery while John Afoa, Daniel Braid and Ma'a Nonu will also be on the bench.