All Blacks v France: Aaron Smith, Sam Cane, Dane Coles return for last test of 2021

Coach Ian Foster has brought more than one of his star players back into his starting side for the All Blacks' final test of 2021, taking on France in Paris on Sunday morning (NZ time).

Halfback Aaron Smith will mark his only appearance of this year's northern tour with a start, after only linking up with the team before last week's defeat to Ireland.

Smith missed the All Blacks' Australian-based Rugby Championship campaign to support his wife as the couple welcomed their second child. The 32-year-old links up with Richie Mo'unga as the halves combination, after Beauden Barrett failed a concussion test during last week's 29-20 defeat to Ireland in Dublin.

Sam Cane also finds himself back in the starting XV, replacing Dalton Papalii in the No.7 jersey, with Akira Ioane also taking hold of the No.6 position over Ethan Blackadder.

In the front row, Dane Coles has been named at hooker in place of Codie Taylor, who drops out of the side altogether. Samisoni Taukei'aho has been named to provide cover from the bench.

In midfield, Quinn Tupaea replaces the injured Anton Lienert-Brown at second-five, forming a midfield pair with centre Rieko Ioane, as David Havili again provides cover from the bench.

George Bridge also returns to the side in the No.11 jersey in place of Sevu Reece, as the seventh change to the starting XV from the Dublin loss.

On the bench, Brad Weber has been passed fit, after he was ruled out of facing Ireland with concussion.

Following last week's Irish defeat, this weekend's clash against France gives the All Blacks the chance to end their year on a high - after what's been a challenging 12 months for the team, who've been on the road for the last three months.

 "We're really excited about this match, it's a big statement game for us, and we know we have to respond from the Irish performance," Foster says.

"It's been an incredibly long tour but I've been delighted with how the players have handled it from a physical point of view.  

"They've given us everything and I couldn't be more proud of the way they have handled the length of this tour.

"But we've had to manage the physical and mental load for the players, so have changed things up a bit for this final Test to maximise the energy within the whole group. 

"That's not a reflection on the guys that haven't been selected, it's more a chance to bring some fresh players in, and that's going to be vital for us."

All Blacks: 1-Joe Moody, 2-Dane Coles, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Brodie Retallick, 5-Sam Whitelock (c), 6-Akira Ioane, 7-Sam Cane, 8-Ardie Savea, 9-Aaron Smith, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-George Bridge, 12-Quinn Tupaea, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-Will Jordan, 15-Jordie Barrett

Reserves: 16-Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17-George Bower, 18-Ofa Tuungafasi, 19-Tupou Vaa'i, 20-Shannon Frizell, 21-Brad Weber, 22-Damian McKenzie, 23-David Havili.

Join Newshub for live updates of the All Blacks v France from 9am Sunday.