Cape Town - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named his team for Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks at Newlands.
Kick-off is at 17:05.
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As expected, the five All Blacks who came to South Africa early have all been named in the match-day 23.
Sam Whitelock returns to the second row alongside Scott Barrett, Liam Squire is at blindside flank and Sam Cane is at openside, with Matt Todd moving to the bench.
In the backline, Ryan Crotty has been named at centre, while Nehe Milner-Skudder is on the right wing. Tawera Kerr-Barlow has been named at reserve scrumhalf, while Lima Sopoaga provides additional back cover alongside David Havili.
Hansen had earlier in the week considered picking Sopoaga at pivot and bench star flyhalf Beauden Barrett, but opted against it.
"Then you think 'well, you've got the best five-eighth (flyhalf) in the world playing on the bench. You may as well play him (from the start)'," Hansen was quoted as saying on the Stuff.co.nz website.
Hansen told the All Blacks’ official website that the squad had settled in well in Cape Town this week.
“However, our preparation has been different because of the need to recover well from all the travel. This has meant that there’s been less time on the park and an even greater emphasis than normal on the mental side of our preparation. As always, getting real clarity of our roles and how we want to play has been key.
“We know we’ll be playing a proud Springbok side which will be determined to rectify what happened in Albany. While it’s necessary for us to try and anticipate what they’re going to bring to the match, it’s more important for us to focus on what we’re going to bring to the encounter. Our skill execution, our physicality and our ability to play our ‘triple threat’ game will be critical.”
The All Blacks haven’t played at Newlands since 2008 and are relishing the chance to play at a ground where they enjoy big support.
“The team is really looking forward to playing at Newlands after a nine-year absence. We know we have a huge fan base here and the hospitality and reception we have received from the local folks has been fantastic. We look forward to their support, as well as the support of all our New Zealand and global fans, come Saturday,” Hansen said.
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 David Havili