x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

New Zealand ring the changes

The New Zealand coach Graham Henry makes 12 changes for the Scotland Test and makes hooker Kevin Mealamu captain.

EDINBURGH // The New Zealand coach Graham Henry has made 12 changes from the side that defeated Australia in Hong Kong last weekend for the Test match against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. The high number of changes reflects the need to rest players in a punishing schedule for the All Blacks. "I don't think that international players have the ability to play five games on a tour," Henry said.

After the Scotland match, New Zealand are due to play Ireland, the European champions Munster, Wales and England before the end of November. Three of the players named to face Scotland are Test debutants including the giant prop Jamie Mackintosh and the back row men Liam Messam and Kieran Read. Mackintosh, who captained New Zealand at under-19 and under-21 levels, comes in at loose head prop but, according to the forwards coach Steve Hansen, will be useful in other areas.

"Jamie gets around the park and we can use him in the line-out," said Hansen. Taking over the captaincy is the experienced hooker Kevin Mealamu, described by Henry as one of the senior players in the party and one who 'has the respect of all the others'. Henry has again selected Stephen Donald at flyhalf but has taken the precaution of naming Dan Carter on the bench should the All Blacks struggle against the Scots.

The other two survivors from the match against Australia are the lock Ali Williams and the full back Isaia Toeava. Henry expects Scotland to be difficult opponents. "They'll throw the kitchen sink at us," he said. "They'll try to pressure us in the set piece and try to knock us down in defence. I expect them to be very well organised, very well drilled." New Zealand team: Isaia Toeava, Anthony Tuitavake, Richard Kahui, Ma'a Nonu, Josevata Rokocoko, Stephen Donald, Piri Weepu, Liam Messam, Adam Thomson, Kieran Read, Ali Williams, Anthony Boric, John Afoa, Kevin Mealamu (captain), Jamie Mackintosh.

Replacements: Corey Flynn, Neemia Tialata, Ross Filipo, Richie McCaw, Andy Ellis, Dan Carter, Cory Jane. *Reuters