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New Zealand name team for World Cup opener

Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu are among those named in coach Graham Henry’s starting line-up.

New Zealand are the current favourites to win the tournament.
New Zealand are the current favourites to win the tournament.

NEW ZEALAND HAVE NAMED their starting XV to play Tonga on Friday night.

Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu are among those named in the starting line-up, while Mils Muliaina has been dropped from the side, with Israel Dagg starting at fullback.

Centre Conrad Smith and hooker Kevin Mealamu are other surprise omissions from the matchday 22.

The side will be captained by Richie McCaw, who will win his 99th cap for his country.

Coach Graham Henry emphasised the fierce competition for places upon announcing the squad. He said:

“Those players selected have now been given the opportunity, which is exciting, and they will all look to make the most of their chance. Everyone in the All Blacks squad is excited by what lies ahead.”

New Zealand are the current favourites to win the World Cup at 4/6, despite their shock loss to Australia in the Tri-Nations last month.

NEW ZEALAND STARTING XV TO PLAY TONGA: I Dagg; R Kahui, M Nonu, S B Williams, I Toeava; D Carter, J Cowan; T Woodcock, A Hore, O Franks, B Thorn, A Williams, J Kaino, R McCaw (capt), V Vito. REPLACEMENTS: C Flynn, B Franks, A Boric, S Whitelock, P Weepu, C Slade, C Jane.

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Paul Fennessy

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