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Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

NZ make 11 changes for Irish game

New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu
Keven Mealamu retains the hooker berth for the Croke Park clash

New Zealand's team for Saturday's game against Ireland includes only four players who started in last weekend's 32-6 win over Scotland.

Hooker Keven Mealamu and lock Ali Williams are retained in the pack while centre Ma'a Nonu and wing Joe Rokocoko are again included in the backline.

Captain Richie McCaw returns to a full-strength forward pack.

Dan Carter and Jimmy Cowan will occupy the half-back roles while Conrad Smith will partner Nonu in the centre.

Superstar pair McCaw and Carter were left on the bench until late on in Saturday's game at Murrayfield.

Rokocoko will win his 50th cap on the right wing as Sitiveni Sivivatu comes in on the opposite flank with Anthony Tuitavake dropping out of the 22.

Mils Muliaina starts at full-back with Isaia Toeava on the bench while centre Richard Kahui and scrum-half Piri Weepu make way for Conrad Smith and Cowan.

Ireland have also made team changes

McCaw will be captaining the All Blacks for the 31st time in a Test, taking him to second place on the New Zealand list behind Sean Fitzpatrick (51).

All Blacks coach Graham Henry said that he is expecting a "torrid encounter" from the Irish.

"The Irish showed passion and physicality when they played us in New Zealand earlier in the year and we are expecting another tough Test match," added Henry.

On that occasion, the All Blacks beat Ireland 21-11 in bitterly cold conditions in Wellington to maintain their unbeaten record against the men from the Emerald Isle.

New Zealand: M Muliaina, J Rokocoko, C Smith, M Nonu, S Sivivatu, D Carter, J Cowan, T Woodcock, K Mealamu, N Tialata, B Thorn, A Williams, J Kaino, R McCaw (capt), R So'oialo. Replacements: C Flynn, J Afoa, A Boric, K Read, P Weepu, S Donald, I Toeava

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see also
Blair pays tribute to All Blacks
08 Nov 08 |  Scottish
New Zealand 21-11 Ireland
07 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union

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