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Friday, July 17, 2009

Tri Nations opener - Richie McCaw back, Stephen Donald at flyhalf

Tri Nations opener - Richie McCaw back, Stephen Donald at flyhalf

Stephen Donald has been chosen at flyhalf ahead of Luke McAlister for the opening Test of the Tri Nations series in Auckland this weekend.

Many expected McAlister to crack the nod, but Graeme Henry has taken the safe step of sticking with Donald for the big match.

Wallaby coach Robbie Deans says he isnt surprised with Donalds selection though.

"We fully anticipated they'd opt for Stephen Donald if he was fit, simply because of his background in that role," the coach said before today's flight to Auckland.

"It's more a reflection of the fact he's more accustomed to playing 10, whereas McAlister lacks that background."

Deans said Donald had earned the right to start the Tri-Nations/Bledisloe Cup opener, due to several solid seasons of Super 14, and particularly his performances for the Chiefs this year.

"We are pleased with the way that Stephen has developed since making his debut last year, he played well under difficult circumstances in the two French tests this year and we believe he is the right man for this test," said New Zealand coach Graeme Henry when the 22-man squad was announced.

Richie McCaw is also back for the All Blacks, which will give them huge confidence going into such a crucial match. Tighthead prop Neemia Tialata says there was an extra buzz in the team's first run of the week.

"It definitely makes a difference when you have your two most experienced players back and we can take some confidence from that".

Eden Park is sold out for the match, with 32,000 seats available in the under-development stadium.

New Zealand team: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Jimmy Cowan, Rodney So'oialo, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Isaac Ross, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Jason Eaton, Kieran Read, Piri Weepu, Luke McAlister, Joe Rokocoko.

Australian team: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lachie Turner, Stirling Mortlock (captain), Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Luke Burgess, Wycliff Palu, George Smith, Richard Brown, Nathan Sharpe, James Horwill, Al Baxter, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson
Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Ben Alexander, Dean Mumm, Phil Waugh, David Pocock, Will Genia, James O'Connor



Time: 04:29

Posted at 8:08 pm | 13 comments

Viewing 13 comments

kuburo July 18, 2009 12:05 am

brian odriscoll player of the year...

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Anonymous July 18, 2009 12:50 am

boks will win tri nations this year

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Joe July 18, 2009 1:55 am

lol stephen donald.

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Anonymous July 18, 2009 3:52 am

its his man beard thats giving him the nod from henry.

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Anonymous July 18, 2009 6:39 am

man beard? As opposed to a woman beard?

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Boz July 18, 2009 6:59 am

Brian O'Driscoll is a scrub.

AUS will win by a dozen.

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JD July 18, 2009 9:26 am

never been his biggest fan, but he had a solid game tonight

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Anonymous July 18, 2009 10:54 am

" Boz said...
Brian O'Driscoll is a scrub.

AUS will win by a dozen."

Final result shows your knowlesge ;)

Boring game though.

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bangbang July 18, 2009 11:36 am

Mcalister should be in at center in place of nonu. When nonu got the ball today that was the end of any backline move

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Huh!! the 3rd July 18, 2009 4:38 pm

Good game.

However, something which has bugged me for last 18 months or so came to light in this game again. The overall level of officiating. Especially since Craig Joubert is widely considered the best around. Although I hate soccer players lack of respect for refs, rugby players need to be allowed voice an opinion without needing the captain or being penalised.

Its not only the ref, but the Assistant refs as well. The amount of blantant forward passes and the complete lack of an offside line is slowly changing the game. Some feared the ELVs would lead to a League Style hybrid, but American Football style seems the actual outcome.
I thought that the assistants (asses) had more powers, they only seem to intervene if there is a puch throw or some kind of foul play. Franks, a prop, led with the fist into Mitchell's face, only for Mitchell was back stepping it didn't get him square in the face.

SHs still feed the ball into 2nd rows at scrum yet, Palu gets pulled for incorrectly tapping a free kick, very pedantic, Smith clearly took a quick tap from Ashley Cooper which was more blatant than Palu. I've seen that once before, Palu that is, in the HCup I think, but it happens nearly every other game. Palu should've tapped correctly, but still, from the reaction even the ABs didn't know why the ref blew up.

But it is mainly the forward passes I have a problem with. Twice Australia got away with passes that were clearly 2 metres forward, 1 lead to a score and one should've lead to a try. Both close to or in line with the refs, neither called even though AB players could clearly be heard shouting for them.

1 pass in lead up to McCaw's try in front of Joubert missed, yet Read's dropped ball, marginally forward, was called from 50m away, more likely a guess rather than an accurate decision.

And don't get me started on the scrums, Australia were pinged nearly every scrum when they were the ones actually trying to scrum properly. If teams aren't going to scrum legally then do away with them altogether. Refs need to be coached on front rows. The rule on this has to be changed. Pressure should only come on after the engage, not during, or most likely, before when props choose not to bind properly and continually get away with it.

Looks like a good tri nations, as an unbiased NH follower, I hope Australia can recover and win it.... for once someone other than NZ.

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Lennox July 19, 2009 2:42 pm

Yeah the ref struggled this game, it was disapointing, he really turned the game into a kicking-fest by the end. Far too pedantic.
And his scrum reffing was worst thing. Baxter was clearly the one who was binding and keeping his back straight. The kiwis were clearly collapsing Aus' feed and miraculously the scrum was staying up without any problem on their feed.
Poor by the ref not to pick this up.

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Anonymous July 21, 2009 4:12 pm

Stephen Donald: This is Sparta!!!

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Anonymous October 25, 2009 6:00 pm

Stephen Donald = King Leonidas?

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