Wellington - The All Blacks have named an unchanged team that played in last week’s 23–13 victory over the French at Eden Park for the second Test against France at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch.However, the All Blacks official website reports that there are three changes on the bench, with the hugely experienced Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock making their returns to the Test arena replacing Keven Mealamu and last week’s Test debutant Ben Afeaki respectively, while halfback Piri Weepu comes in for Tawera Kerr–Barlow.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read will be playing his 50th Test while hooker Hore looks set to play in his 75th Test off the bench.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the team’s focus this week had been on continuing to bed in the team game plan, getting people clearer with their roles and working on the details within those roles.
"Clearly, there has also been a lot of work done on how we are going to approach the breakdown and I’m sure we will see an improvement there.
"Overall, we have had a good week’s preparation. It’s now about putting that preparation and hard work into a performance on the track that we can all be proud of.
"The French, however, may have their own ideas about that and one pleasing aspect from last week’s Test is that we have been left with no uncertainty just how tough this weekend’s Test will be.
"They have laid down the challenge to us that we will have to be at our very best to beat them."
The All Blacks have played France 52 times since 1906, with 39 wins to the All Blacks, 12 wins to France and the one draw.
The French last played the All Blacks in Christchurch in 2003, with the All Blacks winning that day 31–23.
Saturday's Test match will be the All Blacks' 500th in 1 223 games played, there first match was in 1884, against a Wellington XV. The All Blacks won that match 9 - 0.
Their first Test match was against Australia in Sydney at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 15 August 1903, with the All Blacks winning 22–3.
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Rene Ranger