The way has been cleared for Richie McCaw to become the first All Black to play 100 Tests after his nearest rival Mils Muliaina was a surprise omission from their opening World Cup match squad.
All Blacks captain McCaw will play his 99th Test in the opening World Cup match against Tonga on Friday and barring injury, he should reach his century against Japan in the All Blacks' second Pool A match.
It is unlikely McCaw will be rested for the second game as the All Blacks management indicated they did want want the milestone a distraction in the World Cup and the All Blacks third Pool game is their main clash with France.
Assistant coach Steve Hansen said there would be no special celebration to mark either McCaw or Muliaina reaching a century of Tests until after the World Cup.
He explained: "It's just a milestone that will come and go as we go through the tournament. When the tournament's over I'm sure they will sit down, as will the team, and reflect and celebrate it really well. But it won't be at the time because there's another job at hand.
"Playing 100 Test matches for any country is massive, playing it for the All Blacks has never been done before, but I'm sure they will channel their energies and emotions in the right direction when that happens," added Hansen.
The 30-year-old McCaw, who has been named the world player of the year a record three times, played his first Test against Ireland in 2001 two years before Muliaina made his debut against England.
The All Blacks selectors have shown their faith in McCaw by consistantly selecting him as the only specialist number Seven in their squad.
From his 98 Tests played so far, McCaw has only tasted defeat 12 times. He has been the All Blacks captain in 61 Tests and scored 19 tries.
While he is unrivalled as the All Blacks openside flank, the 31-year-old Muliaina is now under pressure from rising fullback Israel Dagg who will play against Tonga.
Muliaina, who like McCaw goes into the tournament on 98 Tests, could not even make the bench for Friday's tournament opening match after being among nine changes to the All Blacks side which lost to Australia two weeks ago.
Although Muliaina has been an automatic selection for several years, head coach Graham Henry said he was "having a bit of a flat patch at the moment".
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