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Tialata, Kaino, Jane Back For Full-Strength All Blacks

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Fuseworks Media
Tialata, Kaino, Jane Back For Full-Strength All Blacks

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

Marseille, Nov 26 NZPA - The All Blacks have picked their strongest available side to try and exact rugby revenge on France, with Neemia Tialata, Jerome Kaino and Cory Jane recalled for Sunday's (NZT) test here.

After seeing his entire 33-man squad during tests against Wales, Italy and England, coach Graham Henry settled on his top lineup today with three changes from the 19-6 win at Twickenham.

Tighthead prop Tialata returned for Owen Franks, Kaino for Adam Thomson on the blindside flank, and one of the year's success stories Jane for rising star Zac Guildford on the right wing.

Otago lock Tom Donnelly also confirmed his status as one of the country's top-two second-rowers, in Ali Williams' injury absence, as he retained his spot alongside Brad Thorn.

There were some intriguing selections on the bench, with Thomson unluckily losing out to the speed of Tanerau Latimer; Franks heading John Afoa and five-eighths Stephen Donald and Luke McAlister both included.

The latter may well be as insurance for Ma'a Nonu, who didn't train today with a slight haematoma on his thigh suffered against England.

Assistant coach Wayne Smith insisted Nonu would be fit to play and expected he would take part in the side's final serious run late tomorrow (NZT).

It meant nine starting All Blacks returned from the season-opening 22-27 defeat to France in Dunedin in June, with the key additions of captain Richie McCaw, Kaino, Donnelly, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith and Sitiveni Sivivatu.

Dave Gallaher Trophy holders France, captained by Thierry Dusautoir, had 11 survivors from their Dunedin starting lineup as coach Marc Lievremont named a powerful side at their base outside Paris yesterday.

All three All Blacks changes were predictable, with the Kaino/Thomson duel perhaps the toughest for the coaches to split.

Kaino's physicality against the imposing French pack won him the nod after effective breakdown forager Thomson had the starting role against the Wallabies in Wellington and Tokyo, and at Twickenham.

Tialata and Jane, who became known as the Twitter Twins after they revealed on the social networking site they would be rested against England, deserved their recalls after starting consecutive tests against Australia, Wales and Italy.

"Wing/fullback is very competitive but we feel Cory has really deserved his spot. Zac's been great, Ben Smith showed a fair bit in Italy, but Cory's been consistently good so that's the way we went," Smith said.

"(Prop) Owen Franks did really well against England but Neemia's probably been the best he's been for us."

Along with experienced loosehead Tony Woodcock, it was hoped Tialata would shore up a scrum that creaked against Italy and England.

Notably, France demolished the Springboks at scrum time in their 20-13 victory in Toulouse almost a fortnight ago.

The selections reflect the All Blacks' view of the Stade Velodrome test as their tour grand final after a patchy international season including three defeats to Tri-Nations champions the Springboks and their Dunedin blemish.

"It has to be (a defining match). It hasn't been a vintage year in terms of our results," Smith said.

"We've made some progress on tour, in terms of competition for spots. We've got some genuine contenders which was what we were after.

"Not winning the Tri-Nations hurt us and we want to make sure we move on from that and this will be the best way to do it.

"It's a big game and the players sense that. We've got to show we can front for this situation."

Bench hooker Corey Flynn was also named to back up Andrew Hore after he missed the England test with a hamstring strain.

Tour ring-in Aled de Malmanche would likely be released if Flynn got the fitness all-clear later in the week.

All Blacks: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Tom Donnelly, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Anthony Boric, Tanerau Latimer, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Luke McAlister.


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