All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and full-back Mils Muliaina will miss Friday’s World Cup Pool A clash with Japan in Hamilton.
The duo join Dan Carter in being rested for the clash against the minnows, as McCaw is struggling with a minor calf injury while Muliaina has a tight hamstring.
Veteran hooker Keven Mealamu will now lead the side in McCaw’s absence, Adam Thomson shifts to openside and Victor Vito comes off the bench to start at number eight.
Lock Anthony Boric comes into the matchday 22 on the bench
With full-back Israel Dagg (right abdominal strain) also unavailable, Isaia Toeava will now start in the number 15 jersey.
“It’s disappointing to have the players unavailable, especially Richie and Mils who were both looking forward to playing against Japan,” said New Zealand coach Graham Henry.
“But injuries are something that we all have to deal with and it’s great that we have versatility in the squad so Isaia is able to slot in at full-back.”
New Zealand (revised): 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Richard Kahui, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 John Afoa, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Anthony Boric, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Sonny Bill Williams.