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Jane to start for All Blacks

CORY Jane has been promoted to the New Zealand starting side for the first test against France in Dunedin today to replace Rudi Wulf, who was ruled out yesterday after breaking a bone in his shoulder.

Normally a fullback, Jane will take Wulf's place on the wing while Lelia Masaga moves on to the reserves bench after being called into the squad on standby just as he was about to board a plane to Samoa with the Junior All Blacks.

Wulf, 25, fell heavily during training on Thursday and x-rays later confirmed he had a small fracture in his left shoulder at the top of his humerus bone.

"At this stage it means that Rudi will need up to six weeks away from rugby to recover," All Blacks team doctor Deb Robinson said yesterday. The All Blacks have been hard hit by injuries in the lead-up to the test, losing captain Richie McCaw, Daniel Carter, Rodney So'oialo, Ali Williams, Conrad Smith, Richard Kahui and Sitiveni Sivivatu, but coach Graham Henry remained upbeat.

"It's a terrible disappointment for Rudi to be injured before taking the field this season," Henry said. "It's the latest in a long list of injuries which we have had to deal with ... but is yet another challenge for the team ahead of what is going to be a huge test match this weekend."

France was still to finalize its squad after naming nine players on the reserves bench because of its own injury problems but want to wait until just before kickoff.

Elsewhere, former Australia rugby league international Craig Gower can expect a tough initiation to test rugby when he makes his debut for Italy against the Wallabies in Canberra today.

Gower quit rugby league two years ago and left Australia to play in France but is back home after being chosen to represent Italy, who he qualifies for through his Italian-born grandfather. His selection at flyhalf has added a new dimension to a match that Australia is expected to win easily.

The Wallabies have won all 10 of their previous matches with Italy, which has not won a test all year and finished bottom of Europe's Six Nations this year.


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