Wed, Jul 26, 2006 - Page 18 News List

All Blacks' Henry names `A-team' to face Australia

AFP , SYDNEY

New Zealand coach Graham Henry said yesterday he had called up his A-team for Saturday's Tri-Nations clash against Australia, taking no chances against the All Blacks' resurgent arch-rivals.

Henry yesterday named a squad virtually unchanged from the one that thrashed Australia 32-12 earlier this month, ditching an experimental side that was still good enough to defeat South Africa 35-17 in Wellington last Saturday.

Henry recalled seven of the eight players rested for the South Africa game, meaning the only change from the starting line-up that trounced Australia in Christchurch is lock Ali Williams replacing Jason Eaton.

The All Blacks coach said he opted for experience against a Wallabies side that would be in a "dangerous" frame of mind after the Christchurch defeat.

"A lot of these guys have played a lot of important Test matches together, so yeah I think you could call that the A team," he said.

Australia bounced back after Christchurch in style, crushing South Africa 49-0 at Brisbane's Lang Park, and Henry said he expected a tough Test this weekend at the same venue, where the Wallabies have not lost in a decade.

"Australia won by an impressive margin in their last Tri-Nations match and they have a great record in Brisbane," Henry said. "So we expect this to be the most difficult Test of the season so far."

"It's a critical Test for the Tri-Nations series as well, so there's plenty to play for," he said.

The New Zealander said there had been an ominous silence from the Wallabies in the lead-up to the Test, which Australia needs to win to have any chance of claiming the Bledisloe Cup.

"Comments out of their camp have been few and far between this time which says something about the attitude and the fact they're steeling up," he said.

Henry has strengthened his forwards by recalling flanker Jerry Collins and props Tony Woodcock and Kevin Mealamu, adding zip to his backline with wingers Rico Gear and Joe Rokocoko, inside center Aaron Mauger and halfback Byron Kelleher.

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