Delany set to make All Blacks debut

FLY HALF Mike Delany will make his New Zealand debut alongside backs Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith in Saturday’s test against Italy at Milan’s San Siro on Saturday.

Coach Graham Henry rang the changes yesterday with only Cory Jane, Neemia Tialata and Wyatt Crockett remaining from the starting team that beat Wales 19-12 in Cardiff last weekend.

Captain Richie McCaw will be rested with number eight Rodney So’oialo taking over as skipper.

“Saturday is important for a lot of people. There is no substitute for this experience, they’ve got to go through it,” Henry said.

Delany plays after flyhalf Dan Carter, who was likely to have been rested anyway, was banned for one week for a high tackle against the Welsh. The Bay of Plenty player has fought off competition from Stephen Donald.

“We know what Stephen can do. We don’t know what Mike can do at this level,” added Henry. Sitiveni Sivivatu returns from suspension while Smith will play on the other wing and Ellison will start at centre alongside Luke McAlister, who will perform kicking duties in Carter’s absence.

So’oialo was looking forward to the 80,000 sell-out crowd at the famous soccer stadium, the biggest attendance in Italian rugby, and also had his eye on Milan’s most prized painting.

“I want to go see ‘The Last Supper’, I’ve always wanted to see it,” he said.

While his captain was dreaming of fine art, Henry was more interested in his appearance later on television show called ‘Italy’s top model’.

“I didn’t realise I was picking Italy’s top model. It will be stimulating.”

ALL BLACKS: C Jane, B Smith, T Ellison, L McAlister, S Sivivatu, M Delany, A Ellis; R So’oialo, T Latimer, L Messam, A Boruc, T Donnelly, N Tialata, C Flynn, W Crockett

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