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Henry rings the changes

A host of fringe players will get the chance to stake a final claim for a place in New Zealand's World Cup squad after being named in the starting XV for Saturday's Tri-Nations clash with South Africa.

Full-back Israel Dagg, wing Isaia Toeava, centre Richard Kahui and loosehead prop Tony Woodcock have all been included and will play their first Tests of the year.

Sonny Bill Williams starts his first Test of the season, while Adam Thomson takes over in the number seven shirt from captain Richie McCaw, Liam Messam gets the nod at number eight, Colin Slade starts at fly-half with Jimmy Cowan at scrum-half.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry is looking forward to seeing how his side get on in Port Elizabeth.

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

"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.

"We know we will also be facing a wounded Springboks side who will want to bounce back from their three losses on the trot, so we will have to be ready for a huge physical contest."

Keven Mealamu takes over as skipper from McCaw.

New Zealand team: Israel Dagg; Isaia Toeava, Richard Kahui, Sonny Bill Williams, Hosea Gear; Colin Slade, Jimmy Cowan; Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu (captain), John Afoa, Sam Whitelock, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Adam Thomson, Liam Messam.

Replacements: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Jarrad Hoeata, Victor Vito, Andy Ellis, Piri Weepu, Cory Jane.


From Belfast Telegraph