NEW ZEALAND coach Graham Henry today named an unchanged team for the World Cup final against France at Eden Park on Sunday, keeping faith with the same players who overwhelmed Australia to reach the global showpiece.
The only change to the team that accounted for the Wallabies was on the bench with the versatile Adam Thomson replacing Victor Vito in the specialist loose forward role.
Thomson had been battling an ankle injury he sustained in the 37-17 victory over France in the pool phase. "Adam Thomson has played big match football. He had that experience in the first round, played well," Henry said. "He has got more of a track record of playing in internationals at this level.
"Victor has come a long way and it's not a reflection on him at all."
Captain Richie McCaw will again lead the side, in his 103rd test, and will join Jerome Kaino and Keiran Read in setting a record for the most experienced loose forward combination for the All Blacks, playing their 21st test together.
McCaw, Rodney So'oialo and Jerry Collins played 20 tests together as a combination.
Keven Mealamu will also join Sean Fitzpatrick as the most capped All Blacks hooker when he makes his 92nd test appearance on Sunday.
Only McCaw and full-back Mils Muliaina (100) have played more tests for the All Blacks.
"It's pretty surreal," Mealamu said of reaching the mark.
"I haven't really looked at it that way.
"I think this week I just have to make sure I do my job well and get a good result for the boys.
"It's come along pretty quickly, it's a cool achievement.
"Everyone knows him (Fitzpatrick) as one of the true leaders of the All Blacks. A constant professional. I'm just amazed to be able to play the same amount of tests as him."
New Zealand: I Dagg; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, R Kahui; A Cruden, P Weepu; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, O Franks; B Thorn, S Whitelock; J Kaino, R McCaw (capt), K Read. Replacements: A Hore, B Franks, A Williams, A Thomson, A Ellis, S Donald, SB Williams.