Rugby Championship

Smith returns to ABs team

2014-08-13 20:00
Conrad Smith (Getty Images)

Wellington - New Zealand's fit-again Conrad Smith has returned at centre while Wyatt Crockett has replaced the injured Tony Woodcock at loosehead prop for their opening Rugby Championship match against Australia on Saturday.

Smith and Crockett were the only two changes made by coach Steve Hansen in the All Blacks starting side for the game in Sydney from their last Test against England.

"It was a tough team to select in many ways because we have a lot of players in good form.

"But in the end we selected the group that we felt could get the job done," Hansen said.

Loose forward Liam Messam needs more time to recover from his gruelling Super Rugby campaign while prop Charlie Faumuina was a late withdrawal due to an illness.

"He (Messam) had another heavy workload during the Super Rugby campaign and we felt that giving him another week off would be the best thing," Hansen said.

"He will come back in contention for selection next week."

Ben Smith was rewarded for some excellent form and was given the nod ahead of Israel Dagg at fullback.

"While we have been very happy with Israel Dagg's performances at 15, Ben has come in and raised the bar to another level," Hansen added.

"The challenge for Israel now is to get his performances - when he gets the opportunity - to an even higher level."


15 Israel Folau, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nic White, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes (one to be omitted): 16 James Hanson, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Scott Higginbotham, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Bernard Foley, 24 Tevita Kuridrani

New Zealand:
15 Ben Smith, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett

Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Joe Moody, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa


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