Wed, Nov 08, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Kiwis revamp league side

AFP , WELLINGTON

New Zealand announced sweeping changes to its side for the do-or-die rugby league clash with Great Britain in Wellington on Saturday, with six alterations to the side which beat the Lions a fortnight ago.

The Kiwis must win to keep their slim title hopes alive after suffering back-to-back losses to Australia then winning their first Test against Great Britain but losing their points for fielding an ineligible player.

The most notable changes see South Sydney second rower David Fa'alogo earn his first Test start while West Tigers utility Dene Halatau comes in at hooker for Nathan Fien, who was exiled after being ruled ineligible.

Halatau started at dummy half in the Tri-Nations opener against Australia, but injured his shoulder during the match and has only now become available again for selection.

Injury concerns have also eased in the backline allowing Kiwis coach Brian McClennan to recall Shontayne Hape and Steve Matai, who missed the first Lions encounter.

Fa'alogo's starting debut at lock sees Frank Pritchard drop to the bench.

Melbourne Storm front rower Adam Blair is also back in favour, earning a bench spot at the expense of St Helens prop Jason Cayless.

New Zealand's setback after losing points for fielding the Australian-born Fien against Great Britain has been further compounded by the Lions' upset 23-12 win over Australia last weekend.

That result gave Great Britain a positive points differential of 28 over the Kiwis.

To have any chance of making the final, New Zealand must now beat the Lions emphatically on Saturday, then rely on Australia walloping Great Britain when they meet again on Nov. 18.

Australia have already booked a place in the Nov. 25 final in Sydney.

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