LONDON: New Zealand centre Ma’a Nonu will make his 100th international appearance in the All Blacks’ final Rugby World Cup group match against Tonga in Newcastle on Friday.
Nonu, who made his test debut in 2003, will be looking to add to his 29 All Blacks tries as the defending champions seek their fourth successive victory to seal top spot in Pool C.
“On behalf of the All Blacks, we would like to congratulate Ma’a on this special milestone,” New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said in a statement on Wednesday.
“He has been an incredibly valued member of our group for a very long time. He has been fully committed to enhancing the All Blacks jersey and the values that go with it.”
Captain Richie McCaw, who has a sore hip, and prop Charlie Faumuina (tight hamstring) were not considered for selection.
Number eight Kieran Read will lead the defending champions in McCaw’s absence and flanker Liam Messam will make his first appearance at the Rugby World Cup off the bench.
“We’ve had a very heavy workload in the last two weeks on the training pitch and a couple of very physical games, which has been great,” Hansen said.
“But this week we’ve been looking to freshen up the group and really concentrate on key parts of our game that we expect will deliver a quality, 80-minute performance on Friday night.
“We know the Tongans will be very physical and bring everything to this final pool match. One only has to remember their last pool match against France in 2011 to know that if you don’t turn up, they will make life difficult for you,” referring to Tonga’s surprise win over France four years ago. – [Agencies]