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Preview: New Zealand v Romania

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Sportal.co.nz     28 Sep 2007     allblacks.com

VENUE & TIME: Toulouse Stadium, Toulouse, Saturday September 29, 23.00 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 1 - New Zealand 1, Romania 0.

LAST TIME: October 24, 1981 (Bucharest) - All Blacks 14 -6 Romania.

WALKING WOUNDED: New Zealand has finally cleared its decks of its wounded but it was decided not to risk fullbacks Mils Muliaina and Leon MacDonald in this week's game while lock Keith Robinson is set to resume his international career. Romania has no reported unavailabilities with all team members keen to win a place against the All Blacks.

FORM: The All Blacks go into the match keen to put the fumbling efforts against Scotland behind them, while also attending to decision-making and points of clarity around the breakdown. Romania has proven a physical side that is not afraid to get into the faces of opponents. They do not have a reputation for being as harshly beaten as some lesser lights in the game and will be looking to put stern defence into effect against the All Blacks.

WHO'S HOT: Captain Jerry Collins has been one of the most outstanding All Blacks players in the tournament so far and should find the Romanians a combative opponent. Given his lack of experience in the position Nick Evans has made a good fist of playing at fullback. Wing Joe Rokocoko has shown glimpses of his class in the chances he has had and if he can put that into effect for the 80 minutes he could be a key performer. Having scored only four tries in its game to date, Romania hasn't pushed the boundaries in terms of outstanding form. However, flanker Florin Corodeanu scoried the key try to give the side a win over Portugal with prop Marius Tincu having scored earlier.

WE THINK: Romanian coach Daniel Santamans put in perspective for his side when he said: "A coach with plans for playing against the All Blacks is maybe being a little pretentious. We need to be proud to play New Zealand and to not embarrass ourselves." The All Blacks also need to use the game to put the finishing touches on quarter-final preparations and it would be no surprise were the Romanians to be moved all around the park as an emphatic New Zealand win is posted.

TEAMS:

New Zealand: - Neemia Tialata, 2 - Keven Mealamu, 3 - Greg Somerville, 4 - Reuben Thorne, 5 - Keith Robinson, 6 - Jerry Collins (captain), 7 - Chris Masoe, 8 - Sione Lauaki, 9 - Andy Ellis, 10 - Dan Carter, 11 - Sitiveni Sivivatu, 12 - Aaron Mauger, 13 - Isaia Toeava, 14 - Josevata Rokocoko, 15 - Nick Evans.
Reserves: 16 - Andrew Hore, 17 - Tony Woodcock, 18 - Chris Jack, 19 - Richie McCaw, 20 - Brendon Leonard, 21 - Luke McAlister, 22 - Conrad Smith.


Romania: 1 - Bogdan Balan, 2 - Marius Tincu, 3 - Silviu Florea, 4 - Sorin Socol (captain), 5 - Cristian Petre, 6 - Florin Corodeanu, 7 - Alexandru Manta, 8 - Ovidiu Tonita, 9 - Lucian Sirbu, 10 - Ionut Dimofte, 11 - Gabriel Brezoianu, 12 - Romeo Gontineac, 13 - Csaba Gal, 14 - Stefan Ciuntu, 15 - Iulian Dumitras.

Reserves: 16 - Razvan Mavrodin, 17 - Paulica Ion, 18 - Valentin Ursache, 19 - Cosmin Ratiu, 20 - Valentin Calafeteanu, 21 - Florin Vlaicu, 22 - Dan Vlad or Catalin Robert Dascalu.


REFEREE: Joel Jutge (France)

Touch judges: F Cuesta (Argentina), M Changleng (Scotland)