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Donald on the bench for semi-final

14 October 2011

Summer signing Stephen Donald has been selected on the bench for the All Blacks when they face Australia in the semi-final of the World Cup on Sunday, kick-off 9am.

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, having overcome a foot injury. Aaron Cruden will start at fly-half while full-back Israel Dagg returns after missing the quarter-final victory over Argentina.

Winger Richard Kahui replaces Sonny Bill Williams, who is on the bench.

McCaw's inclusion means that head coach, Graham Henry has named his strongest pack for their "biggest game in 10 years".

He added: "That eight has played a lot of footy together. A lot of Test matches.

"No excuses for us. We know what the situation is and we have a huge game in the weekend. If you're not focused now, you'll never be focused.

"There's a quiet determination there. They're a bit quieter than usual. Probably because it's such a huge game.

"The team was very happy with the way they played in the quarter-final win over Argentina," Henry said.

"It was a really intense battle, and that is what we needed heading into this weekend's match.

"We have been building slowly this week to be ready for Sunday, when we know there will need to be a further lift in intensity and physicality."

Australia triumphed in the last meeting between the countries almost two months ago, while both previous World Cup contests also went the Wallabies' way in the 1991 and 2003 semi-finals.

However, the All Blacks are unbeaten at Eden Park in 17 years and have not lost there to Australia since 1986.

New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu, Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read.

Replacements: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Victor Vito, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Sonny Bill Williams.

Photos courtesy of Steve Haag.

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