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AllBlacks team named for third Australia Test

allblacks.com     18 Oct 2012    

The team is as follows: (with Test caps in brackets)

Starting XV:

1.            Tony Woodcock (91)
2.            Keven Mealamu (99)
3.            Charlie Faumuina (3)
4.            Brodie Retallick (9)
5.            Samuel Whitelock (34)
6.            Liam Messam (16)
7.            Richie McCaw - captain (112)
8.            Kieran Read (44)
9.            Aaron Smith (9)
10.          Daniel Carter (91)
11.          Hosea Gear (12)
12.          Ma'a Nonu (72)
13.          Conrad Smith (62)
14.          Cory Jane (37)
15.          Israel Dagg (21)

Reserves:

16.          Andrew Hore (71)
17.          Owen Franks (40)
18.          Luke Romano (7)
19.          Victor Vito (16)
20.          Piri Weepu (65)
21.          Aaron Cruden (17)
22.          Ben Smith (8)

The highlight of the team announcement is the naming of hooker Keven Mealamu, who will start in what will be his 100th Test for the All Blacks.  33-year-old Mealamu, who has captained the All Blacks in three Tests, is just the third All Black to reach the distinguished milestone, following captain Richie McCaw and fullback Mils Muliaina who played their 100th Tests during last year's Rugby World Cup.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "On behalf of the All Blacks players and management, I want to congratulate Keven on reaching this very special milestone.  'Kevvy' is a hugely respected man, not only in the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby but also in his wider community; he is a key leader in the team and one of the true gentlemen of New Zealand rugby.  I know his family are extremely proud of him and so is his All Blacks family."

Commenting on the upcoming Test, Hansen added: "Playing Australia in Brisbane represents another great challenge for the team and one which we are looking forward to.  We have prepared well so far for the Test and, as always, the challenge for the team is not only the opposition, but also meeting our own expectations when it comes to the standard of our performance.  Australia sees Suncorp Stadium as their fortress which only enhances the challenge from our point of view."

As well as Mealamu, the starting XV features just one other change from that which started the last Test of the Investec Rugby Championship against South Africa 12 days ago, with prop Charlie Faumuina getting his first Test start, coming in for Owen Franks who moves to the bench.

Other changes on the bench from the South Africa Test see Andrew Hore at reserve hooker;  Victor Vito comes in for Adam Thomson as loose forward cover; while Ben Smith replaces Tamati Ellison in the outside back reserve jersey.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks will take a travelling squad of 26 to Brisbane for the Test, with Ellison, Julian Savea, Ben Franks and Sam Cane joining the match-day 22. Thomson and prop Wyatt Crockett will stay in New Zealand and will be available to play for their respective ITM Cup sides in the competition semifinals this weekend.

Keven Mealamu - biography

Keven Filipo Mealamu was born in the Waikato town of Tokoroa in 1979 and after playing for New Zealand schoolboy sides, made his provincial debut in 1999, his Super Rugby debut in 2000 and All Blacks debut against Wales in 2002. He has captained the All Blacks three times - against Scotland in 2008, in South Africa last year and against Japan at RWC2011. He has scored 12 tries in the All Blacks jersey and played all the major rugby-playing nations in his career, including 15 Tests each against Australia and South Africa and has been on the winning Test side on 85 occasions for an 85.9 percent winning record. Mealamu made his 93rd Test match start as a hooker and achieved his 80th victory in the first Test against Australia this year - setting new records by a hooker in international rugby. He is New Zealand's most capped Super Rugby player with 143 appearances and also the Blues most capped player with 132 to date.