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Williams On Ice As All Blacks Name Best Available

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams

Hong Kong, NZPA - The All Black selectors have resisted any temptation to blood Sonny Bill Williams in the Bledisloe Cup leg of their end of year tour against the Wallabies at Hong Kong Stadium on Saturday.

Williams was a not entirely surprising omission when head coach Graham Henry confirmed his 22-man squad for the fourth and final trans-Tasman test of the year.

Auckland utility back Isaia Toeava will cover the midfield from the bench and is also capable of playing at wing and fullback making the 26-test veteran a logical choice on the seven-man bench.

Williams, who has played only seven provincial games for Canterbury since his return from France, will likely have to wait until the third match of the five-test exercise -- against Scotland in Edinburgh on November 14 (NZT) - for his first cap.

With Daniel Carter recovered from the ankle injury that prevented him playing against Australia in Sydney on September 11, Henry has able to name his optimum line-up as New Zealand strive for a 16th successive win - and 11th in a row against Robbie Deans' Wallabies.

Carter replaces the axed Aaron Cruden, one of four changes to the starting line-up that pipped the Wallabies 23-22 in the Tri-Nations finale last month.

Joe Rokocoko also returns to the left wing for Israel Dagg, who missed the tour through injury, and Jerome Kaino is also restored to the blindside flank for Sydney starter - and tour casualty -- Victor Vito.

Jimmy Cowan starts for the Piri Weepu, who is also unable to tour due to injury, while Weepu's Wellington teammate Alby Mathewson comes on the bench.

The test also marks the international comeback of openside flanker Daniel Braid.

The Aucklander has been selected as specialist back-up for captain Richie McCaw - if he comes on it will be just his fifth cap since debuting against Wales in 2002.

It is also possible for Braid and McCaw to play at the same time in a rejigged loose trio if Kaino or No 8 Kieran Read are injured or replaced.

Hawke's Bay hooker Hika Elliot will make his test debut if required off the bench.

Elliot joined the 2008 end of year tour when Andrew Hore was injured in the inaugural Hong Kong Bledisloe and has made just one appearance - in the midweek match against Munster.

John Afoa is the other alteration to the forward reserves from Sydney, replacing Tasman's Ben Franks as prop cover.

The Wallabies are due to name their team at 6.30pm (NZT).


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