New Zealand named a revamped side on Tuesday for their opening rugby Test of the season against Ireland, selecting only six of the team who lost last year's World Cup quarterfinal to France. Winger Anthony Tuitavake is the only new cap in the starting line-up, with three more new faces on the reserves bench.
The Canterbury Crusaders won the Super 14 title on Saturday with a 20-12 victory over the New South Wales Waratahs in Christchurch, New Zealand. Trailing by a point at half-time, the Crusaders stormed home on the boot of All Black flyhalf Dan Carter, who kicked four penalties and a drop goal for a personal tally of 15 points.
It looks like the closely fought endgame of the Super 14 might turn Saturday's announcement of the 45-man Springbok squad into something of a damp squib. Springbok coach Peter de Villiers will want to avoid disrupting the semifinal preparations of the Sharks and Stormers and will postpone naming players from those squads.
The Wellington Hurricanes and Auckland Blues kick off a climactic final Super 14 round on Friday in which six teams have a chance of joining the Canterbury Crusaders in the final four. The make-up of the semifinalists is unlikely to be decided until the final match of the weekend when the Sharks play the Chiefs.
Dan Carter celebrated his return from injury with a try and two conversions to guide New Zealand's Canterbury Crusaders to a 27-21 win over Australia's Queensland Reds in the Super 14 at Brisbane on Saturday. The Crusaders scored 19 unanswered points in the last 13 minutes after trailing 21-8 to ensure they finish the regular season in first place.