New Zealand made four personnel changes to its starting lineup for Saturday’s Tri-Nations rugby Test against South Africa in Wellington, while Adam Thomson was chosen at No. 8 to complete the full set of loose forward roles.
Dan Carter, Cory Jane, Jerome Kaino and Sam Whitelock replace Colin Slade, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Liam Messam and Jarrad Hoeata, respectively, in the changes from the All Blacks’ season-opening win against Fiji last week.
Thomson, whose previous 18 Tests have come at flanker, was switched to No. 8 as selectors use the All Blacks’ early games to assess their backups for the rested Kieran Read before the Rugby World Cup in September and October.
“If Kieran Read’s playing in a big Test and he gets injured and we’ve got Adam Thompson on the bench and Jerome Kaino and Richie McCaw playing, one of those guys has to play 8,” All Blacks coach Graham Henry said in a news conference. “We’ve got to be flexible in the roles they play and that’s what we’re doing.”
In other positional switches, Zac Guildford moves wings after Jane recovered from a finger injury to take his place on the right wing. Sonny Bill Williams replaces Ben Smith on the reserves’ bench.
Australia beat South Africa 39-20 in the Tri-Nations opener five days ago in Sydney. The Springboks also made four changes to their starting lineup, handing Gerhard Mostert his Test debut in place of injured second-rower Flip van der Merwe.
Flanker Jean Deysel will make his first Test start, while Patrick Lambie and Adi Jacobs replace Gio Aplon and Wynand Olivier in the backs.
“We have had a few injury challenges on this tour and last week was not a good start, but we have learned from our game against Australia,” Springboks coach Peter de Villiers said in a statement. “There have been some frank exchanges this week and the players know what is expected of them.”
NEW ZEALAND: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Adam Thomson, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Sam Whitelock, Ben Franks, Andrew Hore, Wyatt Crockett
Reserves: Cory Flynn, John Afoa, Jarrad Hoeata, Liam Messam, Piri Weepu, Colin Slade, Sonny Bill Williams.
SOUTH AFRICA: Patrick Lambie, Bjorn Basson, Adi Jacobs, Juan de Jongh, Lwazi Mvovo, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Danie Roussow, Jean Deysel, Deon Stegmann, Alistair Hargreaves, Gerhard Mostert, Werner Kruger, John Smit (captain), Dean Greyling.
Reserves: Chiliboy Ralepelle, CJ van der Linde, Ryan Kankowski, Ashley Johnson, Charl McLeod, Wynand Olivier, Odwa Ndungane.