All Blacks v Fiji: Teams
At Dunedin, Friday July 22, kick-off 8.35am
By Simon Dilger. Last Updated: 22/07/11 8:58am
Dan Carter has been practising drop goals
Friday's one-off Test against Fiji could provide a massive clue to the tactics the All Blacks will adopt in their quest to land the World Cup.
And it looks like an increased use of drop goals could be at the forefront of current thinking in the New Zealand camp ahead of the clash.
The scoring system remains unpopular in the country but it has been argued that the All Blacks reluctance to use the tactic was contributor in their quarter-final defeat by France at the last World Cup.
Head coach Graham Henry admitted that New Zealand's tacticians have spent much time analysing new trends emerging in the game this season.
And, while they are giving nothing away, there have been strong hints that the All Blacks could be preparing to unleash a new game plan on the Pacific Islanders in Dunedin.
Assistant coach Wayne Smith said that the New Zealand back room had recognised the increased use of kicking in Super Rugby this season.
And fly-halves Dan Carter and Colin Slade are known to have been practising dropped goals ahead of Friday's showdown.
Smith said the Fiji Test would be an opportunity to assess the All Blacks prior the Tri-Nations series against South Africa and Australia and before the World Cup in September.
"We've looked at the game, looked at the trends and we'll play differently than we did last year... (but) kicking the ball aimlessly just because you're under pressure is not the answer. How you do it is the key."
Fiji on the other hand are facing an uphill struggle after they were forced to make the journey to New Zealand with a severely weakened side.
Up to 20 likely members of their World Cup squad are missing after a Kiwi travel ban on members of the Fiji military was compounded by the reluctance of northern hemisphere clubs to release players.
Despite the setback however, the Fijians are determined to make the most of a rare opportunity to face the All Blacks.
They have faced New Zealand just five times but have never come even close to winning - their best result coming in 1980 with a 33-0 loss, their heaviest defeat was a 91-0 demolition in 2005.
"Playing against the All Blacks, you don't need any more motivation," said coach Samu Domoni. "If that's the case then we shouldn't turn up.
"This is a once in a lifetime dream for all of us ... we'll grab it with both hands and take the opportunity.
"There are a few things that have been involved in selections and a few club issues but we can control what we have at the moment.
"The guys that are here have the heart to play for Fiji and that's what matters. It's a matter of heart."
New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Richie McCaw (capt), 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 John Afoa, 18 Samuel Whitelock, 19 Jerome Kaino, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Daniel Carter, 22 Ben Smith.
Fiji: 15 Iliesa Keresoni, 14 Timoci Naqusa, 13 Albert Vulivuli, 12 Ravai Fatiaki, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Seremaia Baikeinuku, 9 Nemia Serelevu, 8 Sakiusa Matadigo, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Rupeni Nasiga, 4 Sekonaia Kalou, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements: 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Setefano Somoca, 18 Josefa Domolailai, 19 Malakai Ravulo, 20 Vitori Buatava, 21 Taniela Rawaqa, 22 Vereniki Goneva.