Lions tour: Ngani Laumape set for All Blacks debut in second Test
Ngani Laumape's blockbusting performance for the Hurricanes on Tuesday night has earned the 24-year-old a place on the All Blacks bench for Saturday's second Test against the British and Irish Lions in Wellington.
The former Warriors NRL star has been in outstanding form in just his second season in professional rugby union, and is one of two personnel changes to the match day 23 which won the first Test at Eden Park.
Highlanders winger Waisake Naholo starts in the number 14 jersey, with Israel Dagg switching from the right-wing to fullback in place of Ben Smith, who's been ruled out with concussion.
Centre Ryan Crotty's also unavailable due to a hamstring injury, as Anton Lienert-Brown returns to the number 13 jersey he played so well in against Manu Samoa.
Coach Steve Hansen has plenty of faith in the replacement players.
"Whilst it's disappointing to lose both Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty, it creates an opportunity for others," he said.
"Izzy is a world-class back three player, as is Anton in the midfield, and both Waisake and Ngani are coming into the Test side following outstanding performances against the Lions for their respective Super franchises."
Laumape was a wrecking-ball and scored a try in the Hurricanes' draw against the tourists, while Naholo also dotted down and was an influential player in the Highlanders' comeback victory in Dunedin.
There's been plenty of off-field tension brewing between Hansen and his opposite Warren Gatland all tour, but the former insists the All Blacks hold the Lions in high regard.
"We're aware the British and Irish Lions have their backs against the wall and will chuck everything at us to keep themselves alive in the Series," he said.
"They are a quality side who we respect immensely."
All Blacks: 15. Israel Dagg, 14. Waisake Naholo, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Rieko Ioane, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Kieran Read (c), 7. Sam Cane, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Brodie Retallick, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Codie Taylor, 1. Joe Moody
Reserves: 16. Nathan Harris, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19. Scott Barrett, 20. Ardie Savea, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Aaron Cruden, 23. Ngani Laumape