(L-R)Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodock pack down for the scrum during training

All Blacks Coach Graham Henry and his Assistant Coaches Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith have today announced the All Blacks team for their Semifinal match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup against Australia at Eden Park, Auckland, on Sunday October 16.

The All Blacks starting XV, which will again be captained by Richie McCaw, features just three changes to the team that beat Argentina 33-10 in last weekend’s Quarterfinal: Aaron Cruden, who came off the bench last week, is starting at first five-eighth in place of the injured Colin Slade; Israel Dagg comes in for the injured Mils Muliaina at fullback, and Richard Kahui comes onto the left wing, with Sonny Bill Williams moving to the bench.  Other changes on the bench see Andy Ellis get the back-up halfback spot, with Stephen Donald the back up 10.

Henry said: “The team was very happy with the way they played in the Quarterfinal win over Argentina.  It was a really intense battle and that’s what we needed heading into this weekend’s match.  We have been building slowly this week to be ready for Sunday night when we know there will need to be a further lift in intensity and physicality.  It’s a Semifinal in the Rugby World Cup and the team is excited by the challenge that lies ahead.”

The All Blacks versus Australia is one of the oldest rugby rivalries in history – the teams have played each other 142 times with 96 wins to the All Blacks, 41 to Australia and five draws. The last Test between the two sides was the final match of this year’s Tri Nations tournament in Brisbane. The teams have met twice at the Rugby World Cup, in the 1991 and 2003 Semifinals.  The All Blacks have played Australia 22 times at Eden Park, with New Zealand victorious on 18 occasions, and Australia last winning there in 1986.

Starting XV:
1.         Tony Woodcock (81)
2.         Keven Mealamu (90)
3.         Owen Franks (29)
4.         Samuel Whitelock (23)
5.         Brad Thorn (57)
6.         Jerome Kaino (46)
7.         Richie McCaw – captain (101)
8.         Kieran Read (34)
9.         Piri Weepu (54)
10.       Aaron Cruden (7)
11.       Richard Kahui (15)
12.       Ma’a Nonu (64)
13.       Conrad Smith (53)
14.       Cory Jane (29)
15.       Israel Dagg (10)

16.       Andrew Hore (60)
17.       Ben Franks (14)
18.       Ali Williams (71)
19.       Victor Vito (12)
20.       Andy Ellis (24)
21.       Stephen Donald (22)
22.       Sonny Bill Williams (12)

Number of Test caps in brackets