The All Blacks will field close to their top side against Japan in their World Cup clash in Hamilton Friday, saying they were under no illusion about how dangerous the Asian champions could be.
There have been no upsets in the tournament so far and it would be unrealistic to expect Japan to beat the All Blacks, but New Zealand coach Graham Henry is leaving nothing to chance.
After watching Japan go close to tipping over France in their opening match Henry has made numerous changes to the experimental-looking line up that played their tournament opener against Tonga.
It will be an emotionally-charged atmosphere surrounding the game dedicated to the victims of the devastating earthquakes to hit both countries this year and which is also the 100th Test for All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.
But McCaw said it was important the All Blacks were not distracted from the task of winning their second game and progressing towards ending 24 years of World Cup failures.
"The key thing is to keep remembering about doing your job for the team and that's the most important part. Personal stuff aside, it's about doing it for the team," he said.
Long-serving Mils Muliana has been reinstalled at fullback over the rising Israel Dagg as coach Graham Henry looks to solve one of the last remaining pieces of his First XV puzzle.
Richard Kahui remains on the wing where he is joined by Cory Jane, and the established midfield of Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu are back together.
A fit again Adam Thomson replaces Victor Vito in the back row and up-and-coming lock Sam Whitelock comes in for Ali Williams.
The scrum-half slot has gone to Andy Ellis in what Henry says is a case of picking the right person to start a particular game.
Henry said he now had a fair idea of who would be in his top side apart from fullback.
"You've got a gentleman whose played 98 Test matches, who has played some fabulous rugby for the All Blacks over a long period of time, playing against a young guy who could be a very, very, good player so it's a contest and that's great," he said.
Henry said the All Blacks "were under no illusions about how much of a challenge Japan would be after watching their effort against France.
"They are physical at the breakdown, play the game at speed and will be a real threat if we let them play like that so we will have to be on top of our game."
The Japan team of 2011 is well removed from the class who played in the 1995 World Cup and were thrashed by the All Blacks by a record 145-17.
They came into this tournament as Asian champions and holders of the Pacific Nations Cup, and pushed France to the limit before running out of steam 10 minutes early allowing Les Bleus to run away with the game at the end.
"As soon as we found out that we were playing New Zealand in New Zealand, that defeat crossed everyone's minds," said Japan lock Toshizumi Kitagawa.
"But we're determined to show how much we've improved since then."
Despite having lost two players early in the tournament to injury, lock Justin Ives and No.8 Ryu Holani, the performance against France has clearly boosted Japan's confidence.
"We don't talk about the past," said New Zealand-born centre Ryan Nicholas of the '95 loss. "It's just nice that people can see the improvements that we have made and take a team like France close for most of the game."
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