KEVEN Mealamu says it’ll be business as usual when he leads the world champion All Blacks out against the Wallabies in his 100th Test in Brisbane on Saturday.
Mealamu was on Thursday promoted to starting hooker at the expense of Andrew Hore as he prepares to join captain Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina as the only men to reach a century of Tests for New Zealand.
While keenly aware of the honour, the 33-year-old Aucklander said his focus was on completing a third straight win over the Wallabies this season in the Suncorp Stadium clash.
“We’ve got a big job ahead of us and I’ve got to make sure I keep a cool head and do that job,” said Mealamu.
“For me, it’s about putting the emotion aside. Once the game has finished I’ll say yeah, I’ve achieved that.”
Mealamu, whose Test career started against Wales at Cardiff in 2002, said he’d seen how professional McCaw and Muliaina had been for their 100th Tests, and he was taking the same approach.
“I’ve been lucky to sit behind a centurion (McCaw) on the bus and he’s got a few good words for me.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen paid tribute to Mealamu, saying it was never in doubt he would get to start in his 100th test.
Mealamu and prop Charlie Faumuina replace Andrew Hore and Owen Franks respectively in the only changes to the team which beat South Africa in Soweto a fortnight ago to complete the inaugural Rugby Championship unbeaten.
“It’s a reflection on him as a person, not just his perseverance but his ability to play the game,” Hansen said.
“He’s one of our top leaders and he runs the off-field stuff very well.”
Hansen said the good relationship between Mealamu and Hore – great rivals but good mates – had helped both of them extend their All Blacks careers.