12 Nov

Italy v All Blacks: Match Preview
by Tracey Nelson
12 Nov 2009

There are 12 changes to the side that beat Wales last weekend after the All Black coaches named the team to take on Italy this weekend at the San Siro Stadium in Milan.

Mike Delany, Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith will all make their All Black debuts, with 61 test cap Rodney So’oialo named to captain the side for the fifth time from Number 8. Delany has been named to start at 1st 5 ahead of Stephen Donald, who again takes a seat on the reserves bench with Daniel Carter not considered due to his one week suspension for a high tackle in the test match against Wales. Ellison will play at centre, with Luke McAlister named at 2nd 5. Ben Smith takes his place on the right wing with Sitiveni Sivivatu back from his suspension after the Tokyo test starting on the left wing, while Cory Jane shifts from wing to fullback.

Crockett and Tialata start their second test in a row and are joined at hooker by Cory Flynn. Anthony Boric gets his first All Black game since 2008 joining Tom Donnelly as the locking duo. Liam Messam starts at blindside, and Tanerau Latimer makes up the loose trio at openside flanker. Only Boric (10), Tialata (39) and So’oialo (61) have double figure test caps, with the combined caps of the other starting forward only tallying 15.

With three uncapped backs starting, Sivivatu is the most experieced player with 40 test caps followed by McAlister (28), Ellis (11) and Jane (10). But while the average number of caps in the starting lineup is only 14, the reserves more than make up for it with an average of over 40 caps per player. The very strong bench should ensure a more than handy rescue mission should any problems be encountered by the inexperienced starting fifteen.

The All Blacks have played Italy 10 times and have won on all occasions. The last Test between the two sides was in June this year in Christchurch, where the Azzuri pushed the All Blacks hard for the full 80 minutes before the New Zealanders won 27-6. The All Blacks have played in Italy three times: in Bologna in 1995 (won 70-6), Genova in 2000 (won 56-19) and Rome in 2004 (won 59-10).

The team is:

1.Wyatt Crockett (2 Tests)
2.Corey Flynn (5)
3.Neemia Tialata (39)
4.Tom Donnelly (3)
5.Anthony Boric (10)
6.Liam Messam (2)
7.Tanerau Latimer (3)
8.Rodney So’oialo (61, captain)
9.Andy Ellis (11)
10.Mike Delany – uncapped
11.Sitiveni Sivivatu (40)
12.Luke McAlister (28)
13.Tamati Ellison – uncapped
14.Ben Smith – uncapped
15.Cory Jane (10)

Reserves:

16. Andrew Hore (45)
17. John Afoa (21)
18. Jason Eaton (15)
19. Richie McCaw (78)
20. Jimmy Cowan (29)
21. Stephen Donald (17)
22. Mils Muliaina (79)

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