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Henry hails inspirational McCaw

Richie McCaw will become the first New Zealand international to reach 100 caps when he leads his team out against World Cup Pool A opponents Japan on Friday.

And All Blacks coach Graham Henry has led the plaudits for his World Cup captain.

"Richie is a very special man," said Henry. "He provides inspiration to New Zealanders because of his total commitment to enhancing the reputation of New Zealand through the success of the All Blacks team."

He added: "He is incredibly brave, skilful and a hugely intelligent player who has the total respect of his team through the many deeds and successes he has achieved on the rugby field, and his ability to lead from the front.

"On behalf of the All Blacks coaches, management and fellow players, I would like to congratulate him on being the first player in All Blacks history to achieve 100 Tests - a truly remarkable milestone."

Henry has made several changes for the Hamilton clash following last week's opening 41-10 victory over Tonga in Auckland.

Behind the scrum, Mils Muliaina returns at full-back, while there are also starts for wing Cory Jane, centre Conrad Smith and scrum-half Andy Ellis, with Sonny Bill Williams on replacement duty.

Up front, Adam Thomson has recovered from an ankle injury to pack down at number eight, with hooker Keven Mealamu and lock Sam Whitelock also featuring.

Team: M Muliaina; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, R Kahui; D Carter, A Ellis; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, O Franks, B Thorn, S Whitelock, J Kaino, R McCaw (capt), A Thomson.

Replacements: A Hore, J Afoa, A Williams, V Vito, P Weepu, C Slade, S B Williams.


From Belfast Telegraph