All Blacks make four changes


EDINBURGH, November 11 – New Zealand have made four changes to the starting XV from the side which defeated England last weekend for Saturday's Test against Scotland at Murrayfield.In the backs, Jimmy Cowan returns at scrum-half, Conrad Smith replaces Ma’a Nonu at centre and Isaia Toeva comes onto the right wing in place of Joe Rokocoko.

The only change in the forwards sees Liam Messam picked at blindside flanker although New Zealand coach Graham Henry could be forced into a fifth change if hooker Keven Mealamu loses an appeal against his ban for headbutting England’s Lewis Moody.

Uncapped Hika Elliot has been named as Mealamu’s replacement if he misses out.

"This is another challenging Test for the All Blacks and our selection reflects that," Henry said.

"We have huge respect for the Scots and the way they are playing the game.

"They have had some major victories in recent times, including two away wins in Argentina and a win over Ireland this year plus the win over Australia last year, so it should be another absorbing contest between the two teams."

Saturday’s match, the second of New Zealand’s tour of Britain and Ireland where they are aiming to complete a Grand Slam, represents a significant milestone in All Blacks history.

Skipper Richie McCaw and full-back Mils Muliaina will both win their 92nd caps, equalling Sean Fitzpatrick’s All Blacks record, and are likely to break the former All Blacks hookers mark later in the tour.

"I couldnt think of two better people than Richie and Mils to beat my record," Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

"They are outstanding All Blacks, good leaders of men and for me its an honour to pass the baton on to those two," he added..

All Blacks coach Henry also paid tribute to McCaw and Muliaina’s record-equalling double act.

"It is a fantastic achievement for both men and its great that they are able to reach the milestone together this weekend in Scotland," he said.

"They are icons of the game, have huge respect within the All Blacks, in New Zealand and around the world, and will have many more Tests together in the All Blacks jersey."

New Zealand (15-1)

Mils Muliaina; Isaia Toeava, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Hosea Gear; Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Liam Messam; Samuel Whitelock, Brad Thorn; Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu/Hikawera Elliot, Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Daniel Braid, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Maa Nonu.