Rugby Championship

Cruden returns for All Blacks

2014-09-10 19:30
Aaron Cruden (Getty Images)

Wellington - Flyhalf Aaron Cruden has returned to the All Blacks' starting side after recovering from a chest injury to face South Africa in the fourth round of the Rugby Championship at the Wespac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.

Cruden suffered the injury in the All Blacks' 51-20 victory over Australia last month at Eden Park and coach Steve Hansen decided to rest the 25-year-old pivot for last week's clash against Argentina.

Cruden's absence allowed Beauden Barrett to make his first start at flyhalf in Napier where he impressed with his attacking instincts, tactical kicking and control of the match, though he had a poor night with his goalkicking, missing four shots.

Barrett has shifted to the bench for Saturday's match with Colin Slade dropping out of the matchday squad of 23.

The All Blacks are the only unbeaten side in the Rugby Championship and Hansen said they were well aware the Springboks would be fired up after they lost 24-23 to the Wallabies in the last minute last week in Perth.

"This week we have to find a desperation and hunger in our performance because we know that that is something the South Africans will be bringing after their loss to Australia," Hansen said in a statement.

"As well they have already stated they have a desire to get a win against us.

"After two wonderful matches last year, I know our guys are really looking forward to this match.

"We have the utmost respect for South Africa and looking forward to Saturday."

Hansen was forced to make two other changes to his starting side with lock Sam Whitelock and loose forward Liam Messam ruled out earlier this week for at least a month after they suffered injuries in Napier.

Wellington lock Jeremy Thrush, who came on for Whitelock last week, has been elevated to the starting side, while Steven Luatua has come onto the blindside of the scrum after having provided cover for lock/loose forward from the bench in the first two clashes against Australia.

Auckland lock Patrick Tuipulotu, who has not been considered until this week due to an ankle injury, has recovered enough to move onto the bench.

Wellington winger Cory Jane has also come into the replacements' bench in place of rookie centre Malakai Fekitoa to provide cover for the outside backs.


New Zealand:

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, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Cory Jane

South Africa:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Damian de Allende


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