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Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 17:58 UK

McCaw and Palmer set for reunion

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland Date: Saturday, 14 June Kick-off: 0835 BST Coverage: BBC Radio 5 Live, Text commentary on BBC Sport website

Richie McCaw pictured during training with the All Blacks on Wednesday
McCaw is delighted Palmer is back in the England side

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw will be locking horns with an old friend when he lines up against England lock Tom Palmer on Saturday.

The pair were schoolmates when Palmer spent two years on an exchange from Boroughmuir High School at Otago Boys High School in the late 1990s.

"He was a pretty cool guy - he came and stayed on the farm," said McCaw.

"He was a good fella and he turned into a bit of a mate. I am looking forward to catching up for a beer."

London-born Palmer, 26, made the New Zealand Schoolboys team alongside the likes of former All Blacks Jerry Collins, Carl Hayman and Aaron Mauger.

McCaw recalled one occasion when Palmer spent time at the family farm in rural Canterbury in the south island of New Zealand.

Tom came over and probably learned a bit by playing in the mud and stuff down in Dunedin

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw
"He wasn't too much of a prankster but I remember one story when he came to stay at home and got on the motorbike," said McCaw.

"We had this ploughed paddock and it was as rough as hell and the old man and I were watching and there he was bouncing all the way up and down the paddock.

"The old man was like 'geez he's going to ruin the bike!'

"I have kept in touch with him, especially over the last few years. Each time I've been to England I catch up with him and say g'day and I keep an eye from afar on how he's been going."

Palmer left New Zealand to attend Leeds University, beginning his professional career with Leeds before moving to Wasps.

He won his first England cap back in 2001 but has never been a regular in the side.

He was not picked for the World Cup and will be playing his first Test since the 2007 Six Nations on Saturday.

"A few years ago I never would have thought we'd end up playing against each other in an international but it will be good," said McCaw.

"He definitely had potential. He was obviously a big, tall guy but was a pretty smart sort of a player as well.

"He came over and probably learned a bit by playing in the mud and stuff down in Dunedin. He made the NZ schoolboy team and he turned into a pretty good player.

"The last time I caught up with him was in 2006 and at that stage he was on the verge of being in the squad. Now, he's got himself into it, which is great."

see also
Easter ruled out of England tour
08 Jun 08 |  English
New Zealand 21-11 Ireland
07 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
England 17-14 Barbarians
01 Jun 08 |  English
Borthwick proud to lead England
13 May 08 |  English
Borthwick to lead England in NZ
13 May 08 |  English

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