All Blacks, England ring changes for second Test

England and the All Blacks have both made major changes for their second rugby Test on Saturday, but while the tourists are revamping out of desperation, New Zealand are looking to future challenges.

England made six changes—five in the backs—in the team named on Tuesday in an attempt to plug defensive leaks revealed in last weekend’s 37-20 first Test loss.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry has made four changes to his successful team—including dropping in-form outside centre Conrad Smith—in a return to his contentious rotation policy.

Among the English backs, only double try scorer Topsy Ojo on the wing and outside centre Mike Tindall have been retained after the All Blacks found plenty of holes at the weekend.

“We’ve got to be with them at the start [and] 60 minutes into the game to stand any chance of winning, and to do that we have to defend,” acting head coach Rob Andrew said.

“We felt that the midfield was probably the area that the game was won and lost.

“It’s about combinations and looking at the physical threat that is posed by New Zealand in that area of the field.”

The replacement of scrumhalf Richard Wigglesworth and flyhalf Charlie Hodgson had been widely expected, with Danny Care and Toby Flood taking their places.

Jamie Noon comes in for Olly Barkley at inside centre, Tom Varndell takes over from David Strettle on the left wing and Mathew Tait was named at fullback ahead of Mike Brown.

The only change in the forwards is Tim Payne at prop after Andrew Sheridan was ruled out with a cut over his left eye.

Graham Henry has been pilloried by many fans for his rotation policy up to last year’s failed World Cup campaign, but he dusted it off Tuesday.

“We’ve got to do well in this Test, that was our primary concern. Also, we have to make sure players are accustomed to playing Test match rugby and to blood them at this level,” Henry told reporters.

“Trying to get that balance right was a major concern.”

There are two new caps in the starting line-up, with Rudi Wolf being chosen on the left wing and Richard Kahui at outside centre.

Leon MacDonald takes over from Mils Muliaina at fullback and Adam Thomson, who made his debut as a reserve against Ireland earlier in the month, is at blindside flanker.

Kahui takes the place of Smith, who starred in the centres with Wellington Hurricanes teammate Ma’a Nonu in the victories against Ireland and England.

The selection of Wulf, who was told he would never play again after breaking his neck diving into a shallow swimming pool three years ago, means Sitiveni Sivivatu will move to the right wing.

Anthony Tuitavake misses out after playing in the first two Tests of the season.

Thomson’s inclusion allows Rodney So’oialo to resume his usual position at number eight, which was filled by Jerome Kaino for the last two Tests.

Prop John Afoa and halfback Brendon Leonard remain on the injury list and were not considered for the team.

All Blacks: Leon MacDonald; Sitiveni Sivivatu, Richard Kahui, Ma’a Nonu, Rudi Wulf; Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis; Rodney So’oialo, Richie McCaw (captain), Adam Thomson; Ali Williams, Brad Thorn; Greg Somerville, Andrew Hore, Neemia Tialata. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Anthony Boric, Sione Lauaki, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Mils Muliaina

England: Mathew Tait; Topsy Ojo, Mike Tindall, Jamie Noon, Tom Varndell; Toby Flood, Danny Care; Luke Narraway, Tom Rees, James Haskell; Steve Borthwick (captain), Tom Palmer; Matt Stevens, Lee Mears, Tim Payne.
Reserves: David Paice, Jason Hobson, Ben Kay, Joe Worsley, Pete Richards, Olly Barkley, David Strettle.

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