Recovering All Blacks Get Test Start to Press World Cup Claims

New Zealand recalled four players for their first Test appearance of 2011 in the All Blacks’ final match before their Rugby World Cup squad is announced.

Backs Israel Dagg, Isaia Toeava, Richard Kahui, and loosehead prop Tony Woodcock will get the chance to prove their fitness in this weekend’s Tri-Nations game against South Africa in Port Elizabeth. Prop John Afoa, who made two appearances as a replacement last month, returns after fracturing his cheekbone against the Springboks.

“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,” All Blacks coach Graham Henry said in a statement. “We will have to be ready for a huge physical contest.”

New Zealand, which is level with Australia atop the Tri-Nations standings, is scheduled to name its 30-man squad for the Sept. 9-Oct. 23 tournament on Aug. 23. The All Blacks face Australia in the Tri-Nations finale four days later in Brisbane.

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

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

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