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Mealamu to win 100th All Blacks cap

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Keven Mealamu.

Keven Mealamu. Photo: Getty Images

WELLINGTON: Hooker Keven Mealamu will on Saturday become only the third player to win 100 caps for the All Blacks when he starts against Australia in the Bledisloe Cup clash in Brisbane.

The 33-year-old follows captain Richie McCaw and full-back Mils Muliaina who both played their 100th Tests during last year's World Cup.

"On behalf of the All Blacks players and management, I want to congratulate Keven on reaching this very special milestone," said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

"'Kevvy' is a hugely respected man, not only in the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby but also in his wider community; he is a key leader in the team and one of the true gentlemen of New Zealand rugby. I know his family are extremely proud of him and so is his All Blacks family."

As well as Mealamu, who returns to the front row in place of Andrew Hore, Saturday's starting XV features just one other change from that which started the last Test of the Rugby Championship against South Africa 12 days ago, with prop Charlie Faumuina getting his first Test start, coming in for Owen Franks.

Other changes on the bench from the South Africa Test see Hore at reserve hooker, Victor Vito comes in for Adam Thomson as loose forward cover, while Ben Smith replaces Tamati Ellison in the outside back reserve jersey.

"Playing Australia in Brisbane represents another great challenge for the team and one which we are looking forward to," said Hansen, whose team, are aiming for a 17th successive Test win.

"We have prepared well so far for the Test and, as always, the challenge for the team is not only the opposition, but also meeting our own expectations when it comes to the standard of our performance."

New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Daniel Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Samuel Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith.

AFP

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