Five All Black debutants to face Wales

 

New Zealand have named five new caps in a side featuring 10 changes for Saturday's clash with Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

Following defeat to England and a draw against France in the last two weeks, coach John Mitchell has rung the wholesale changes.

Half of the All Black pack are uncapped, with New Zealand blooding prop Tony Woodcock, hooker Keven Mealamu, flanker Daniel Braid and number eight Rodney So'oialo.

Behind the scrum Regan King is handed his first cap at outside centre with Tana Umaga moving inside to fill the number 12 jersey.

It is all change in the front row where Carl Hayman replaces Keith Meeuws and at lock Brad Mika makes way for Keith Robinson.

At scrum-half Steve Devine gets a run out ahead of Danny Lee and Ben Blair is preferred at full-back to Christian Cullen.

But despite the changes, Mitchell insisted the selection policy had nothing to do with New Zealand being without a win on tour or taking Wales lightly.

"Throughout this tour we have wanted to play everyone and we wanted everyone to start a Test match and we very much believe in a squad system," Mitchell said.

"It's been our plan on tour and that's why these boys have had their opportunity.

"We have got an eye on the immediate, which is Wales at the weekend, but we are also looking forward to next year and it was important that we looked at everyone on this particular tour.

Mitchell refused to write off Wales' chances of springing a surprise.

"I love the passion Wales offer as a rugby country and it's going to be very difficult for us."

Mitchell added he was not happy that three incidents New Zealand had brought to the citing commissioner, concerning stamping, gouging and testicle-grabbing during the France game, were not taken any further.

"I don't think gouging, ball-grabbing and stamping have any place in the game," he said.

New Zealand team to play Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday:

Ben Blair (Canterbury); Doug Howlett (Auckland), Regan King (Waikato), Tana Umaga (Wellington), Jonah Lomu (Wellington); Andrew Mehrtens (Canterbury), Steve Devine (Auckland); Rodney So'oialo (Wellington), Daniel Braid (Auckland), Taine Randell (Otago, capt); Ali Williams (Auckland), Keith Robinson (Waikato); Carl Hayman (Otago), Keven Mealamu (Auckland), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour)

Replacements:Andrew Hore (Taranaki), Kees Meeuws (Auckland), Bradley Mika (Auckland), Marty Holah (Waikato), Danny Lee (Otago), Paul Steinmetz (Wellington), Mark Robinson (Canterbury)