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3 changes to All Blacks for Tokyo test

3 changes to All Blacks for Tokyo test

New Zealand has made three changes to its squad as the All Blacks look for a season sweep of Australia in Saturday's Bledisloe Cup match at Japan's National Olympic Stadium.
New Zealand coach Graham Henry announced the changes Wednesday, saying the starting XV was a "pat on the back" to the team which beat Australia 33-16 in Wellington last month.
Winger Sitiveni Sivivatu and center Conrad Smith both return from injuries to reclaim their places in the All Blacks' backline, while veteran No. 8 Rodney So'oialo has displaced young rival Kieran Read in the New Zealand pack.
"(Rodney) has been a player who has led from the front for the All Blacks for a long time," Henry said. "He brings a certain physicality and plays fully for 80 minutes."
Read will start from the reserves bench along with recalled hooker Corey Flynn and uncapped utility back Tamati Ellison.
New Zealand has beaten Australia in three Bledisloe Cup matches this season to retain the trans-Tasman trophy. Both teams are en route to Europe for autumn test matches.
The All Blacks' starting XV, led by captain Richie McCaw in his 77th test, boasts a combined total of 600 international caps. Young lock Tom Donnelly, who will make his second test start after making his debut at Wellington, and winger Cory Jane in his eighth test, are the side's least-experienced members.
McCaw and fullback Mils Muliaina, who will play his 78th test, are among its most senior members.
The match will be the second between New Zealand and Australia played at a neutral venue outside a World Cup. The teams met in Hong Kong last year in the first of what are expected to be regular test matches played outside Australia or New Zealand in a bid to promote rugby in countries outside the sport's traditional powerbases.
Henry said his players were aware of the historic nature of the match and were looking forward to continue their traditional rivalry.
"Both sides will be looking to kick off their respective tours with a strong performance so, as always, we are expecting there to be a lot of intensity and a real edge to this test," he said.
"We have been welcomed with open arms by the Japanese people and the team is certainly enjoying the hospitality and culture here and looking forward to playing in front of the Japanese fans."
The All Blacks and Wallabies have played 135 times since 1903 with 91 wins to the All Blacks, 39 to Australia and five draws.
Australia named its team Tuesday, with 100-test veteran George Smith dropped among five changes to the side.
"I think they've picked a very strong team," Henry said. "I think when there are changes made it adds an extra edge. Obviously, you can't do it every week but it does something for the team."
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Teams:
New Zealand: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sitivenu Sivivatu, Daniel Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Rodney So'oialo, Richie McCaw (captain), Adam Thomson, Tom Donnelly, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Corey Flynn, John Afoa, Jason Eaton, Kieran Read, Brendon Leonard, Stephen Donald, Tamati Ellison.
Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Peter Hynes, Ryan Cross, Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane, Matt Giteau, Will Genia; Wycliff Palu, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (captain), Mark Chisholm, James Horwill, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Replacements: Stephen Moore, Matt Dunning, Dean Mumm, George Smith, Luke Burgess, Drew Mitchell, James O'Connor.
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AP Sports Writer Steve McMorran in Wellington, New Zealand contributed to this report.