All Blacks announce team for Bledisloe Cup Test
Thursday 20 Oct 2016 4:54 a.m.
The All Blacks are sticking to the tried-and-true, making just one change to the starting 15 for Saturday's clash with the Wallabies at Eden Park, and the world record attempt at 18 consecutive Test victories.
Prolific try-scorer Julian Savea returns to the left-wing after being rested in big win over the Springboks in Durban, as Waisake Naholo drops out of the match-day 23.
First-five Aaron Cruden's back in the reserves for Lima Sopoaga - a solid 40-minute cameo for Manawatu against Otago last week was good enough to prove he's over a groin strain.
It's an indication from coach Steve Hansen to Cruden that's he's still very much wanted by New Zealand Rugby, with the classy 27-year-old considering a big-money offer from French club Montpellier.
The emerging midfield pairing of Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown gets another chance to impress, while Malakai Fekitoa, who started the two previous Bledisloe Cup Tests, returns from a month out of action to take George Moala's place on the bench.
Matt Todd retains the number seven jersey ahead of Ardie Savea, while regular first-choice openside flanker Sam Cane's over his hamstring injury, but has been released to play for Bay of Plenty along with Augustine Pulu and Waisake Naholo, who are also free to play for Counties and Taranaki respectively in the Mitre 10 Cup semi-finals.
The All Blacks team to play the Wallabies at Eden Park:
15. Ben Smith, 14. Israel Dagg, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. TJ Perenara, 8. Kieran Read, 7. Matt Todd, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Brodie Retallick, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Dane Coles, 1. Joe Moody.
16. Codie Taylor, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19. Liam Squire, 20. Ardie Savea, 21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22. Aaron Cruden, 23. Malakai Fekitoa.