Auckland - The All Blacks have restricted fallout from last
week's loss to Australia to just three changes for the return bout in Auckland,
formulating their own version of a tandem attack at the breakdown.
Victor Vito will be in the No 6 jersey on Saturday with Sam
Whitelock restored at lock, while in the backline Ma'a Nonu returns for the
injured Sonny Bill Williams.
Teaming the athletic Vito with Richie McCaw should bolster
the All Blacks' speed to the collision area where they were soundly beaten by
Australia's terriers David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the Rugby Championship
Whitelock returns as the senior lock to give more drive over
the ball as the All Blacks fight to retain the Bledisloe Cup which Australia
last held in 2002.
Apart from sharpening that area, coach Steve Hansen has
backed the notion that the bulk of his side beaten 27-19 last weekend deserve a
shot at redemption.
But he has made clear there needs to be a commanding
performance in the All Blacks' last home game before the World Cup and to
celebrate McCaw breaking the World record for the most Test matches in his
"This game is one of the best challenges we could have.
We pride ourselves on our performance and last week's wasn't good enough, so we
have been working hard at all areas of our game," Hansen said when naming
the team on Thursday.
"We know we have to be smarter, more accurate and bring
more intensity right across the park."
More will be expected of halves Aaron Smith and Dan Carter
after the All Blacks' backline struggled to fire last week.
Part of the problem was predictable moves of heavyweight
forwards stationed in the midfield and it remains to be seen if that plan will
The inclusion of Vito at the expense of hardman Jerome Kaino
should give the All Blacks better presence at the breakdown.
It is a straight swap of Kaino's power for the mobility of
Vito whose all-round skills stem from his days as a formidable sevens player
where he was touted as the next Jonah Lomu.
Kaino is included on a re-jigged reserves bench where Keven
Mealamu and Wyatt Crockett replace Codie Taylor and Ben Franks, while Colin
Slade comes in for Beauden Barrett.
For the All Blacks farewell performance before they head to
England to defend their world crown "it's important that we deliver a
performance that we can be proud of in front of our home fans," Hansen
15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12
Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7
Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Victor Vito, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3
Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo
Laulala, 19 Jerome Kaino, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Colin Slade, 23
14-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 12-Matt Toomua, 11-Henry
Speight, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Nic White, 8-Wycliff Palu, 7-Michael Hooper,
6-Scott Fardy, 5-James Horwill 4-Will Skelton, 3-Sekope Kepu, 2-Stephen
Moore (captain), 1-Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16-Tatafu Polota-Nau,
17-James Slipper, 18-Greg Holmes, 19-Dean Mumm, 20-Kane Douglas,
21-David Pocock, 22-Matt Giteau, 23-Kurtley Beale