Richie McCaw is back to captain the All Blacks against the Wallabies

All Blacks Coach Graham Henry and his Assistant Coaches Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith have announced the All Blacks team for their third match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup against France at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday September 24.

Starting XV:

1.         Tony Woodcock (78)

2.         Keven Mealamu (87)

3.         Owen Franks (26)

4.         Brad Thorn (54)

5.         Sam Whitelock (20)

6.         Jerome Kaino (43)

7.         Richie McCaw – captain (99)

8.         Adam Thomson (23)

9.         Piri Weepu (51)

10.       Daniel Carter (84)

11.       Richard Kahui (14)

12.       Ma’a Nonu (62)

13.       Conrad Smith (50)

14.       Cory Jane (28)

15.       Israel Dagg (8)


16.       Andrew Hore (57)

17.       Ben Franks (12)

18.       Ali Williams (68)

19.       Anthony Boric (22)

20.       Andy Ellis (22)

21.       Colin Slade (7)

22.       Sonny Bill Williams (9)

Number of Test caps in brackets

The starting XV features four changes to the team which beat Japan 83 – 7 in Hamilton last week: Richie McCaw returns to captain the side in his 100th Test after a minor calf strain forced him to miss the Japan Test; Israel Dagg has recovered from his abdominal strain and been named at fullback; Piri Weepu is at halfback with Andy Ellis on the bench; and playmaker Daniel Carter has also recovered from his stiff back to take his place in the familiar number 10 jersey.

All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said: “While there is obviously intense interest in this game because of past Rugby World Cups, the focus for the team is simple. We will have to match the physicality of the French, execute our key roles well and deal with anything unexpected which the French may throw at us.”

Henry added: “The French are a very good side and they often play their very best rugby against the All Blacks.  They play with huge passion, lift themselves emotionally and, as always, they can never be underestimated.”

Saturday’s match will be the 50th Test between the two countries, with the All Blacks winning 36 matches, France 12, with one draw. The All Blacks and France have played each other four times at the Rugby World Cup (for two wins apiece) but this is the first time they have met in Pool Play.  The All Blacks beat France in the 1987 Final and in the 3rd /4th playoff match in 2003 with France scoring victories in 1999 and 2007.