All Blacks: make three changes and one shift

2011-07-27 00:00

WELLINGTON — Richie McCaw is poised to start at No 8 against South Africa, with Adam Thomson given the chance to affirm his status as the best back-up openside flank for the Rugby World Cup.

With incumbent No 8 Kieran Read one of four players being rested this week, it appears McCaw will be named tomorrow at the back of the scrum.

According to the Dominion Post website, it would mark the first time the All Blacks captain has not started in his accustomed No 7 jersey during his 95-Test career.

McCaw ran at No 8 during Monday’s training session at Porirua’s Te Rauparaha Arena, with Jerome Kaino at blindside and Thomson on the openside, the same trio that finished the 60-14 win over Fiji in Dunedin last Friday.

McCaw started at No 8 in his comeback match for the Crusaders this year and has been used there sporadically, including the second half of the win over Fiji.

The All Blacks’ coaches have said a specialist No 7 could still be brought in for the Rugby World Cup, but Thomson now has a prime opportunity to send a message that he is that player.

Sam Whitelock also looks set to return at lock alongside Ali Williams, and Dan Carter at flyhalf, in what would represent three personnel changes and one positional shift from the team that played Fiji.

Cory Jane could also get a start on the right wing.

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