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Jerry Collins to captain All Blacks

NZPA     27 Sep 2007    

Among those retained are key playmaker Carter, who kicked well in general play but not with his goalkicking boot at Murrayfield and wasn't humming in his usual fashion with ball in hand.

Up front Chris Masoe switches from the blindside flank to his more accustomed openside berth while Reuben Thorne remains at lock and will start alongside Keith Robinson, making his first appearance of the tournament after nearly a month spent battling a calf strain.

Also making his first start is halfback Andrew Ellis, whose only other appearance was off the reserve bench against Portugal two weeks ago.

Henry said all 30 players were available but the selectors had opted to rest fullback options Mils Muliaina (hamstring) and Leon MacDonald (bruised thigh) for safety's sake.

"We can afford to take a bit more time with their recovery," he said.

"And it gives us more options if Nick Evans has match time at fullback which is a positive."

Evans played the last 60 minutes at the back against Scotland after MacDonald limped off.

"One of our major goals is to go into the quarter finals with all 30 players ready for action," Henry said.

"We want every player to have had game time and also to be fresh for the knockout rounds. It's a balancing act and that's been a big part of our thinking around selections for this match."

Another part of the thought process may have been giving Carter another run, something the 25-year-old had previously expressed would suit him in a year of minimal rugby.

He started the international season slowly but after several Tests under the belt had begun to fire by the end of the Philips Tri Nations.

Sivivatu and his cousin Joe Rokocoko could well be in a straight shootout for this weekend a left wing berth in the quarterfinal at Cardiff, with the red-hot Doug Howlett seemingly ensconced on the right flank.

Isaia Toeava will get his first start at centre, with that position still holding a degree of intrigue heading into the playoffs.

The form of Robinson in the pack will be watched closely, as will that of Mealamu, who is in a tight race for the hooker's jersey with Anton Oliver.

The likes of Masoe, No 8 Sione Lauaki and Thorne are all probably contesting reserve bench places in the playoffs, as are props Neemia Tialata and Greg Somerville.

"We expect the team we've picked to raise our standards again in this match," Henry said.

"That's been our goal in every pool game.

"We picked up in some areas of weakness against Scotland, but maybe not in others so we have our own challenges this week."

All Blacks: Nick Evans, Joe Rokocoko, Isaia Toeava, Aaron Mauger, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Daniel Carter, Andrew Ellis, Sione Lauaki, Chris Masoe, Jerry Collins (captain), Keith Robinson, Reuben Thorne, Greg Somerville, Keven Mealamu, Neemia Tialata. Reserves: Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock, Chris Jack, Richie McCaw, Brendon Leonard, Luke McAlister, Conrad Smith.