All Blacks: Cowan, Franks in for Soweto

Jimmy Cowan will return to as the starting halfback after suffering a rib injury in the first Bledisloe Cup test. Photo / Getty Images
Jimmy Cowan will return to as the starting halfback after suffering a rib injury in the first Bledisloe Cup test. Photo / Getty Images

Jimmy Cowan returns as starting halfback while Ben Franks replaces his propping brother Owen in the All Blacks' side for the Tri-Nations rugby test against South Africa in Soweto on Sunday.

Cowan sat out New Zealand's last match, the 20-10 win over Australia in Christchurch on August 7, with a rib injury, but his recovery sees Piri Weepu shift to the bench.

It will be Ben Franks' third test start, while his brother drops out of the lineup, with John Afoa moving to the bench. In another bench change, coach Graham Henry and assistant coaches Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith have brought in Israel Dagg to provide outside back cover.

The All Blacks are attempting to wrap up their 10th Tri-Nations crown, with one competition point needed to secure the title.

Henry said the team expected to face a "very different" Springboks side from the one that lost two matches in New Zealand in the opening rounds of the Tri-Nations.

"They will be hugely motivated to turn around those results and we are expecting a hugely physical encounter," he said.

"Playing the Springboks in Soweto in front of 90,000 plus fans - it doesn't get much bigger than this. It's going to be a marvellous occasion, a massive challenge and one which the team is really looking forward to."

Hooker Keven Mealamu will join former All Blacks lock Ian Jones as the joint fifth-most capped All Black on Sunday, while Daniel Carter could become New Zealand's highest points scorer against South Africa. He is sitting on 207 points, two behind former first five-eighths Andrew Mehrtens.

Joe Rokocoko is one try from equalling former All Blacks fullback Christian Cullen's record of 10 tries scored against South Africa.

ALL BLACKS

Mils Muliaina,Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Joe Rokocoko, Daniel Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c)Jerome Kaino, Tom Donnelly, Brad Thorn, Ben Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock,
Reserves:Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg, Corey Flynn, John Afoa, Samuel Whitelock, Victor Vito.

Johannesburg, 3am Sunday

- NZPA

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