Cape Town - The All Blacks have surprised with the inclusion of inexperienced prop Kane Hames into their starting team for Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks in Albany.
Hames will earn his first start in only his third Test, coming in for Joe Moody, who is sidelined with a dislocated shoulder.
Hames' inclusion to start at loosehead comes as a surprise, as many expected coach Steve Hansen to opt for the more experienced Wyatt Crockett, who boasts 64 Tests.
The 29-year-old Hames is a late bloomer and has moved quickly from playing provincial rugby for Tasman right up to the All Black ranks. Not too long ago, the Chiefs front ranker struggled to earn a full-time Super Rugby contract.
Explaining his decision to start Hames ahead of Crockett, Hansen told the Stuff.co.nz website: "We had make a decision, do we start Crocky and then bring Kane off bench? "We just think it will be easier for Kane to start and also the secondary thought process is we're only making the one change. It's a twofold scenario: we felt it was best for Kane to start and leave the combination with Crocky coming off the bench because it's worked well for us."
Hames’ inclusion in the All Black starting XV was one of seven changes made by Hansen.
Saturday’s Test is scheduled for 09:35 (SA time).
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 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende