Rugby Union: All Blacks ready to take revenge without Lomu

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It is almost exactly a quarter of a century since Llanelli turned over the All Blacks on an emotional afternoon at Stradey Park. As Chris Hewett reports, the current New Zealand tourists have no intention of walking into a similar ambush when they square up to the Scarlets on Saturday.

It may be anniversary time, but romantic sentiment was conspicuous by its absence yesterday. The All Black selectors named no fewer than 10 Test certainties in their line-up for this weekend's tour opener in Wales, where Llanelli are hoping to prove that their own special brand of red-tinged lightning can indeed strike twice.

Twenty-five years after Delme Thomas led the most celebrated Scarlets of them all to a 9-3 triumph over Ian Kirkpatrick's New Zealanders, the memory still rankles and John Hart, the All Black coach, is to field a side lavishly equipped for revenge.

Sean Fitzpatrick will spearhead a Test-strength front five and other first-choice mens include Josh Kronfeld on the breakaway flank, Justin Marshall at scrum-half and Frank Bunce and Jeff Wilson among the threequarters.

There is no place for Jonah Lomu, whose All Black career will almost certainly resume against Wales A at Sardis Road next Tuesday. Lomu, stricken by kidney problems and still on medication, must watch Glen Osborne stake a Test claim in the No 11 shirt at Stradey.

The Scarlets, meanwhile, will almost certainly be without their own All Black, Frano Botica. The veteran outside-half suffered a shoulder injury during last weekend's Heineken Cup play-off defeat by Cardiff and is likely to give way to Craig Warlow.

Talking of veterans, Will Carling is about to cross the shadow line between playing and pontificating; the former England captain, hardly noted for his love affair with the media during a long stint at the sharp end, will present ITV's coverage of England's internationals this winter.

Fritz van Heerden, the Springbok utility forward, has finalised his move from Western Province to Leicester. The South African Rugby Football Union has cleared the transfer and waived a 180-day stand-down period but, in the same breath, has made it clear that he will no long be considered for Test duty.

ALL BLACKS (v Llanelli, Stradey Park, Saturday): C Cullen (Central Vikings); J Wilson (Otago), F Bunce (North Harbour), A Ieremia (Wellington), G Osborne (North Harbour); A Mehrtens (Canterbury), J Marshall (Canterbury); C Dowd (Auckland), S Fitzpatrick (Auckland, capt), O Brown (Auckland), I Jones (North Harbour), R Brooke (Auckland), J Kronfeld (Otago), A Blowers (Auckland), T Randell (Otago). Replacements: J Preston (Wellington), J Stanley (Auckland), Z Brooke (Auckland), M Cooksley (Waikato), A Oliver (Otago), M Allen (Central Vikings).

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