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September 17, 2009

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All Blacks make mass changes for Australia test

NEW Zealand lock Tom Donnelly will make his test debut against Australia tomorrow after the All Black selectors finally ran out of patience and wielded the ax for the final Tri-Nations match of the season.

The 27-year-old Donnelly was promoted to the team at the expense of Isaac Ross after head coach Graham Henry made five personnel changes and two positional switches to the side that relinquished the title with a loss to South Africa last weekend.

Flanker Jerome Kaino and prop Owen Franks were also dumped from the squad and inside center Stephen Donald was relegated to the reserves bench, although Henry said they were not being blamed for the team's 29-32 defeat in Hamilton.

"There are no scapegoats from last weekend," Henry told New Zealand Press Association.

Donnelly's Otago Highlanders teammate Adam Thomson was rewarded for his strong showing off the bench last week by being picked at blindside flanker while tighthead prop Neemia Tialata was recalled to the starting line-up for the first time since July.

Isaia Toeava was picked at center and Cory Jane replaced the injured Sitiveni Sivivatu in a reshuffled backline.

With Toeava coming into the side at outside center, Ma'a Nonu was moved to inside center while Joe Rokocoko was switched to the left wing to allow Jane to start on the right side.

Neither team can win the championship after South Africa wrapped up the title last weekend but there is still plenty at stake with both sides hoping to avoid the humiliation of finishing last.


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