Weakened Samoa to face All Black might in one off Test

New Zealand and Samoa will go head-to-head in a one-off Test Wednesday but with both sides limited due to selection problems.


The unusual midweek Test in New Plymouth provides the All Blacks with an opportunity to fill a gap ahead of their final Tri-Nations match.


But they will be without skipper Ritchie McCaw, who is nursing a rib injury, although he is expected to return for the decisive Tri-Nations finale against the Wallabies in Brisbane on September 13.


Lock Brad Thorne and winger Sitiveni Sivivatu who started against South Africa in the All Blacks’ 19-0 victory in mid-August are also missing through injury.


Because of the injury woes, which have also ruled out prop John Afoa, the All Blacks have chosen just three forwards and four backs for the reserves bench against Samoa.


“They’re the 22 fit players to be frank in a squad of 26,” coach Graham Henry admitted in naming his team Monday.


“We expect (the injured players) to all be fit for the game in Brisbane so there wasn’t any point in bringing people outside the squad for this particular fixture.”


Blindside flanker Adam Thomson will be playing out of his normal position, taking over from McCaw at openside, while number eight Rodney So’oialo again takes over the captain’s role in his 50th All Black Test.


Anthony Boric will replace Thorn at lock and Anthony Tuitavake takes the place of Sivivatu on the left wing.


Although Samoa are not seen offering a serious challenge to New Zealand, Henry said the match was important for the build up for the Wallabies’ match.


“We need to play together as a team before we go to Australia, so we’re pleased to have the opportunity to play Samoa,” he said.


Veteran lock Filipo Levi will lead Samoa with many players from European clubs and some New Zealand provinces unable to get clearance for the match.


The bulk of team come from Samoan clubs, with Levi being one of three Japanese-based players in the forward pack, along with New Zealand-based prop Simon Lemalu and lock Chad Slade, who plays for Exeter in England.


The entire starting backline come from three clubs in Samoa — Apia, Apia West and Tuamasaga.


All Blacks

 

Mils Muliaina, Richard Kahui, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Anthony Tuitavake, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Rodney So’oialo (captain), Adam Thomson, Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Anthony Boric, Greg Somerville, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock.

Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Neemia Tialata, Sione Lauaki, Piri Weepu, Stephen Donald, Isaia Toeava, Rudi Wulf.


Samoa

 

Alatasi Tupou, Reupena Levasa, Pale Toelupe, Jerry Meafou, Esera Lauina, Uale Mai, Notise Tauafao, George Stowers, Alafoti Faosiliva, Semo Sititi, Chad Slade, Filipo Levi (captain), Heroshi Tea, Loleni Tafunai, Simon Lemalu.

Reserves: Lafoga Aoelua, Roysiu Tolufale, Maselino Paulino, Simaika Mikaele, Junior Poluleuligaga, Roger Warren, Romi Ropati.


Sapa-AFP – Rugbyweek.com

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