All Blacks team for Investec Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup opener
Prop replacement Kane Hames picked on the bench
The All Blacks side to play the opening Bledisloe Cup match in the Investec Rugby Championship at ANZ Stadium, Sydney on Saturday 20 August has been named, with replacement prop Kane Hames named on the bench.
The matchday 23 is (with Test caps in brackets. New All Blacks in bold):
1. Wyatt Crockett (48)
2. Nathan Harris (4)
3. Owen Franks (80)
4. Brodie Retallick (50)
5. Samuel Whitelock (75)
6. Jerome Kaino (69)
7. Sam Cane (34)
8. Kieran Read – captain (87)
9. Aaron Smith (50)
10. Beauden Barrett (39)
11. Waisake Naholo (6)
12. Ryan Crotty (18)
13. Malakai Fekitoa (15)
14. Ben Smith (51)
15. Israel Dagg (51)
16. Codie Taylor (5)
17. Kane Hames
18. Charlie Faumuina (36)
19. Liam Squire (1)
20. Ardie Savea (2)
21. TJ Perenara (19)
22. Aaron Cruden (39)
23. Julian Savea (43)
27-year-old Tasman and Chiefs prop Kane Hames came into the All Blacks squad as an injury replacement for Joe Moody and will become the sixth new All Black of 2016 and All Black number 1152 if he takes the field, as expected, off the bench on Saturday.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “The selectors are very happy with the 23 selected for this Test match and we’re looking forward to seeing them play. This Test match will be another stepping stone in the re-establishment of this group on the international stage and we know that Australia will throw everything at us, which is what Test rugby is all about. With more than 800 Test caps of experience in our matchday 23, I’m confident we have the experience to deal with the challenge.”
Hansen added: “This week has been about getting our preparation and attitude dead right and, therefore, there’s an expectation that this group will bring real intensity and physicality and a high level of skill execution come Saturday.
“We’re all really excited about this first Investec Rugby Championship Test match. It’s against one of our most respected rivals and the Championship itself is one of the best competitions in the world. It produces an exciting brand of rugby and world-class players, which both teams have.
“We’re also playing for the Bledisloe Cup, which after the Rugby World Cup, is probably the most important trophy we play for. Both teams will be desperate to get their hands on it which will create added pressure. It’s about embracing that pressure and taking it on. Our attitude has always been – and still is – that we don’t hold the Bledisloe Cup by right; we have to go out and earn the right to take it. As a group we’re really looking forward to this challenge on Saturday.”
All Blacks v Australia – notable facts
* The All Blacks matchday 23 for the opening Investec Rugby Championship Test packs 822 caps worth of experience.
* The All Blacks and Australia have played each other 155 times, with 106 wins to the All Blacks and 42 to Australia, with seven draws.
* Jerome Kaino will play his 70th Test match on Saturday. He is the most capped blindside flanker of all time.
* The All Blacks head in to the opening Bledisloe Cup Test on the back of a three-nil Steinlager Series win over Wales in June.
* The All Blacks have held The Bledisloe Cup since 2003.
The Investec Rugby Championship – All Blacks Tests
1. vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 20 August, 8.05PM, ANZ Stadium, SYDNEY
2. vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 27 August, 7.35PM, Westpac Stadium, WELLINGTON
3. vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 10 September, 7.35PM, FMG Stadium Waikato, HAMILTON
4. vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 17 September, 7.35PM, AMI Stadium, CHRISTCHURCH
5. vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 1 October, 7.10PM, Estadio Jose Amalfitani, BUENOS AIRES
6. vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 8 October, 5.05PM, Growthpoint Kings Park, DURBAN