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Delany Set For Debut Amid 12 Changes To All Blacks

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Mike Delany
Mike Delany

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

Milan, Nov 10 NZPA - Mike Delany is poised for a test rugby debut at first five-eighth amid up to 12 personnel changes to the All Blacks to face Italy here on Sunday (NZT).

The All Blacks trained with a radically revamped side at Arena Civico today from their 19-12 win over Wales, with the coaches appearing to stay true to their word about testing their entire 33-man squad on tour.

On evidence of training, it appeared Cory Jane and props Wyatt Crockett and Neemia Tialata would be the only survivors in the starting 15 from Cardiff.

It would mean test debuts for 27-year-old Bay of Plenty pivot Delany -- ahead of Stephen Donald -- and Wellington centre Tamati Ellison and Otago winger Ben Smith.

It appeared Smith would start on the right wing, with Jane shifting to fullback.

Other returnees would be hooker Corey Flynn, locks Anthony Boric and Tom Donnelly, and a loose forward trio of Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam and Rodney So'oialo who appeared the most likely candidate to captain the side.

In the backs, halfback Andy Ellis, second five-eighth Luke McAlister and previously suspended winger Sitiveni Sivivatu would all return.

Several frontliners would probably come off the bench including regular skipper Richie McCaw, Andrew Hore, Jimmy Cowan and Mils Muliaina.

It was always going to be a tight call at first five-eighth but Delany got the nod ahead of the more experienced Donald, after an excellent Air NZ Cup for Bay of Plenty.

Whether star pivot Dan Carter played a role off the bench remained in doubt, as he was in London today at a judicial hearing on a dangerous high tackle charge.

Utility Ellison gets his chance at centre due to injuries to Richard Kahui and Isaia Toeava, while Smith was rewarded for his solid form for Otago and the Highlanders, largely at fullback.

For several players the test at a sold out San Siro would be a long-awaited return to the black jersey.

For Flynn, it would remarkably be his first test start since the 2003 World Cup match against Tonga.

In the interim he played three tests off the bench but was troubled by breaks in both arms.

For Latimer and Messam it will be their first tests since the June series.


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