Sonny Bill Williams will make his Test rugby debut for New Zealand against England on Nov. 6 after being named at outside center for the All Blacks’ opening match of their Grand Slam tour of the U.K. and Ireland.
Williams, who switched to rugby union from rugby league two years ago, replacesConrad Smith as Ma’a Nonu’s midfield partner as coach Graham Henry made four changes to the team that started the 26-24 loss to Australia five days ago in Hong Kong.
In other changes, Sam Whitelock comes in for Tom Donnelly in the second row, Alby Mathewson makes his starting debut at scrum-half, replacing Jimmy Cowan, while winger Hosea Gear gets his second Test start in place of the injured Cory Jane.
After taking on England at Twickenham in London, the top- ranked All Blacks face Scotland, Ireland and Wales on consecutive Saturdays in November.
NEW ZEALAND: Mils Muliaina, Joe Rokocoko, Sonny Bill Williams, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Dan Carter, Alby Mathewson, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: Hikawera Elliot, Ben Franks, Anthony Boric, Liam Messam, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Isaia Toeava.
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