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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK
Muliaina wins outside centre role
Mils Muliaina
Muliaina in full flow against Ireland last month

Saturday, 8 July
Kick-off: 0835 BST

New Zealand have named Mils Muliaina at outside centre for the first match of the Tri-Nations series against Australia in Christchurch on Saturday.

Three different players have been chosen in the position this year after the retirement of Tana Umaga.

Australia coach John Connolly has opted for an unchanged starting line-up.

The 15 players who started the 37-15 win over Ireland two weeks ago are retained with Ben Tune, Matt Giteau and Scott Fava named on the bench.

Leon MacDonald fills the full-back slot vacated by Muliaina's switch and New Zealand coach Graham Henry is pleased to accommodate the two players in the team

"Mils is more suited to centre than Leon is so that's how it's finished up. We've got total confidence in his ability to play there," Henry said.

"It was a natural thing to do that was always at the forefront of our minds in the early part of the season."

Meanwhile, lock Chris Jack is set to make his 50th Test appearance in Saturday's showdown.


Winger Tune is back in the Australian set-up for the first time in four years after hamstring trouble ruled out Clyde Rathbone.

Giteau returns after knee surgery, while Fava is handed an opportunity after an injury to Wycliff Palu.

Australia are unbeaten this season after two comprehensive victories over England in addition to the win against Ireland in Perth.

Connolly admitted, however, that they would need to improve against the mighty All Blacks.

"Playing against New Zealand is a massive step up from what we've had so far and we certainly acknowledge that we are going to have to lift another gear for them this Saturday night," he said.

"They are the best team in the world and they've got class all over the field, so we know what to expect from them."

New Zealand: L MacDonald; R Gear, M Muliaina, A Mauger, J Rokocoko; D Carter, B Kelleher; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, C Hayman, C Jack, J Eaton, J Collins, R McCaw (captain), R So'oialo.
Replacements: A Hore, G Somerville, A Williams, C Masoe, P Weepu, L McAlister, I Toeava.

Australia: C Latham; M Gerrard, S Mortlock, M Rogers, L Tuqiri; S Larkham, G Gregan (captain); G Holmes, T McIsaac, G Shepherdson, N Sharpe, D Vickerman, M Chisholm, G Smith, R Elsom.
Replacements: J Paul, A Baxter, S Fava, P Waugh, S Cordingley, M Giteau, B Tune.

Nonu to miss most of Tri-Nations
03 Jul 06 |  Internationals
Thorne back in All Blacks squad
26 Jun 06 |  Internationals
O'Driscoll tips Wallabies over NZ
26 Jun 06 |  Internationals

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