The All Blacks have named their team to face the Springboks in a Tri-Nations test with Keven Mealamu being named as captain.
The All Blacks have rested 9 of their first choice players for this match including Dan Carter, captain Richie McCaw, number eight Kieran Read, lock Brad Thorn, prop Owen Franks, fullback Mils Muliaina and centre Conrad Smith.
Hooker Keven Mealamu has been named as All Blacks captain for the second time in a Test after he captained the All Blacks against Scotland in November 2008.
The starting XV sees first five-eighth Colin Slade make his second run-on start in his fifth Test, Jimmy Cowan is at halfback, while in the forwards Liam Messam is at number eight, Adam Thomson is at openside flanker, Sam Whitelock returns to the second row alongside Ali Williams and John Afoa returns from his eye socket injury at tighthead prop.
The starting XV also features the return of a number of other recently-injured All Blacks to the Test side for the first time in 2011.
The All Blacks most capped prop Tony Woodcock returns to the front row, while in the backs Richard Kahui is at centre, pairing with Sonny Bill Williams in the midfield for the first time; Isaia Toeava is on the right wing, and Israel Dagg, who scored a memorable try in last year’s Test against the Springboks in Soweto, is at fullback.
This weekend’s Test will feature a number of milestones for a trio of All Blacks, Blues and Auckland teammates: Mealamu will play his 85th Test, Woodcock will play his 75th, while Ali Williams will pull on the black jersey for his 65th Test.
All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said the All Blacks had had a great build-up in Port Elizabeth and the team was feeling refreshed and raring to go.
“There is excitement across the board in the squad and every player will be looking to put in a big performance this weekend. Playing the Springboks at home is always a massive occasion and with Rugby World Cup spots also up for grabs, our players will be looking to put in a big performance.
“We know we will also be facing a wounded Springboks side who will want to bounce back from their three losses on the trot so we will have to be ready for a huge physical contest.”
The All Blacks and Springboks have played each other 82 times, with 46 wins to the All Blacks, 33 to South Africa and three draws. The All Blacks have played the Springboks four times in Port Elizabeth (1928, 1949, 1960 and 1970), with victories to South Africa on every occasion.
All Blacks Starting XV:
Number of Test caps in brackets
1 Tony Woodcock (74), 2 Keven Mealamu – captain (84), 3 John Afoa (32), 4 Samuel Whitelock (16), 5 Ali Williams (64), 6 Jerome Kaino (40), 7 Adam Thomson (20), 8 Liam Messam (8), 9 Jimmy Cowan (46), 10 Colin Slade (4), 11 Hosea Gear (7), 12 Sonny Bill Williams (6), 13 Richard Kahui (11), 14 Isaia Toeava (30), 15 Israel Dagg (6).
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore (53), 17 Ben Franks (10), 18 Jarrad Hoeata (2), 19 Victor Vito (6), 20 Andy Ellis (19), 21 Piri Weepu (47), 22 Cory Jane (23).