UPDATE: Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Mils Muliaina have been scratched from the team due to injury. Israel Dagg also unavailable due to injury.
Richie McCaw becomes first All Black to play 100 tests
New Zealand and Japan team announcements for their 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool A test at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Friday at 8pm. The All Blacks have not played the Brave Blossoms since the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which resulted in a record 145-17 thrashing of Japan. However, the gap has closed considerably since then, with Japan having a much more professional set up and players.
The All Blacks have named Richie McCaw to play his 100th test for New Zealand, the first All Black to do so. Mils Muliaina has been given the opportunity ahead of tyro Israel Dagg at fullback. Muliaina will play his 99th test, but will need a big game if he is to get the chance to play his 100th.
There are seven changes to the All Black team from the one that opened the tournament against Tonga. These include Keven Mealamu starting at hooker instead of Andrew Hore, Sam Whitelock replacing Ali Williams at lock, Adam Thomson comes back from injury and replaces Victor Vito at 8 and Conrad Smith starts at centre with Ma’a Nonu returning to 12 in place of Sonny Bill Williams. All four replaced players move to the bench. Half back Andy Ellis replaces Jimmy Cowan.
Dan Carter has been scratched from the team due to a back injury sustained in the Tonga Game. Colin Slade comes into the starting 15 at number 10. Jimmy Cowan comes onto the bench, with Piri Weepu remaining there as 10 cover.
Fri Sept 16 20.00 New Zealand v Japan Hamilton Waikato Stadium
New Zealand Team to Play Japan:
1. Tony Woodcock 2. Keven Mealamu (captain) 3. Owen Franks 4. Brad Thorn 5. Sam Whitelock 6. Jerome Kaino 7. Adam Thomson 8. Victor Vito 9. Andy Ellis 10. Colin Slade 11. Richard Kahui 12. Ma’a Nonu 13. Conrad Smith 14. Cory Jane 15. Isaia Toeva
Reserves: 16. Andrew Hore 17. John Afoa 18. Ali Williams 19. Anthony Boric 20. Jimmy Cowan 21. Piri Weepu 22. Sonny Bill Williams
Japan Team to Play New Zealand:
1. Naoki Kawamata 2. Yusuke Aoki 3. Nozomu Fujita 4. Hitoshi Ono 5. Toshizumi Kitagawa 6. Itaru Taniguchi 7. Michael Leitch 8. Takashi Kikutani (captain) 9. Atsushi Hiwasa 10. Murray Williams 11. Hirotoki Onozawa 12. Yuta Imamura 13. Koji Taira 14. Takehisa Usuzuki 15. Taihei Ueda
Reserves: 16. Hiroki Yuhara 17. Kensuke Hatakeyama 18. Yuji Kitagawa 19. Sione Talikavili Vatuvei 20. Tomoki Yoshida 21. Shaun Webb 22. Alisi Tupuailai