Williams dropped amongst three changes to All Blacks
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw will ignore the pain from his troublesome right foot to lead his country against Australia in their Rugby World Cup semi-final on Sunday.
McCaw’s injured foot has prevented him taking a full part in training this week and the presence of Canterbury’s Matt Todd at training set tongue’s wagging about the fitness of the 101-Test veteran.
But the 30-year-old flanker will take his place at Eden Park in a side that features three changes to the starting line-up from the 33-10 quarter-final win over Argentina.
Fullback Israel Dagg has recovered from a thigh injury that kept him out of the match against the Pumas and replaces Mils Muliaina who was ruled out of the tournament with a fractured shoulder.
Aaron Cruden takes over from the injured Colin Slade at five-eighth while Stephen Donald takes a place on the bench.
Richard Kahui has recovered from a hamstring strain to bump Sonny Bill Williams to the bench while Andy Ellis takes over from Jimmy Cowan as reserve halfback.
Coach Graham Henry said the side had been taking a slow, but steady approach in the lead-up to the 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 (from the quarter-final).
“It’s a semi-final in the Rugby World Cup and the team is excited by the challenge that lies ahead,” he said.
Australia have beaten the All Blacks in their two previous semi-final meetings in the Rugby World Cup, in 1991 and 2003.
© AAP 2013
NEW ZEALAND: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino, Brad Thorn, Samuel Whitelock, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Res: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Victor Vito, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Sonny Bill Wiliams.
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