Kaino returns for All Blacks

2014-06-04 21:30
Jerome Kaino (File)

Auckland - Jerome Kaino caps a remarkable return to the All Blacks for the first time in three years in a team mixing old and new named to play England in the first Test in Auckland on Saturday.

The return of the 31-year-old Kaino for his first Test since the 2011 World Cup final victory over France is coupled with the selection of three uncapped players, TJ Perenara, Patrick Tuipulotu and Malakai Fekitoa, on the bench.

"We see this Test match as one which will be very physical with lots of ball movement that will challenge both sides aerobically and mentally," coach Steve Hansen said as he named the side on Thursday.

In a largely expected line-up, the only surprise was the preference for Dane Coles to start at hooker ahead of the veteran Keven Mealamu, whose 110-Test experience adds depth to an otherwise raw-looking bench.

Loose-forwards strongman Kaino, who specialised as a number six, returns to the side as number eight in place of Kieran Read, who was withdrawn from the team during the week because of concussion.

It opens a new chapter in the career of the Blues favourite, who moved to Japan after the World Cup and then took a considerable pay cut to return to New Zealand at the end of last year, intent on resuming Test rugby.

His drive and bruising style of play fits with the physical game the All Blacks' coach expects from England.

Hansen described England as "the perfect opponent" for an All Blacks side looking to build on last year's exceptional run when they became the first team in the professional era to go through a calendar year undefeated.

"There is a strong desire in the group to keep improving the quality of our performances from the level they have been at," he said.

"We are fully aware that if we don't, we are vulnerable to those teams that have the same mindset of improvement."

Of the three uncapped players, Perenara has previously occupied the reserves bench, when the All Blacks beat Ireland last year, but was not required to take the field.

Blues lock Tuipulotu and Highlanders centre Fekitoa could not be overlooked after an outstanding Super 15 year and give an indication of where Hansen sees the future of New Zealand rugby.


New Zealand:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Cory Jane, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock

Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa


15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Danny Care, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 James Haskell, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Joe Marler

Substitutes: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Chris Pennell

Read more on:    all blacks  |  jerome kaino  |  rugby

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