Rugby Championship

Mass changes, 4 new faces in All Blacks shake up

2018-06-20 20:26
Sonny Bill Williams (Getty Images)

Dunedin - There are four new caps and Sonny Bill Williams returns in an All Blacks shake up for the third Test against France in Dunedin in Saturday.

With the series already wrapped up, coach Steve Hansen has made 11 changes to the match-day 23 to both cover injuries and to give four new players a taste of Test rugby.

Flanker Shannon Frizell and centre Jack Goodhue will make their debuts in the run-on side with Jackson Hemopo and Richie Mo'unga to come off the bench.

From the side which won the second Test in Wellington 26-13 last weekend, Beauden Barrett, Liam Squire and Vaea Fifita were ruled out because of injury.

The All Blacks won the first Test 52-11 and Hansen said with the series won he could now focus on building depth as he swapped 10 players and made one positional change.

"We think this is the right time to do that," he said when naming the side on Thursday with the promise of a fast-flowing game unaffected by the weather in the roofed Dunedin stadium.

"It's an exciting mix of players with big-match experience, newer All Blacks who are continuing to grow their game, and four players who have been named in the Test 23 for the first time."

There are two changes in the starting forward pack, with Ardie Savea getting his fourth start in the seven jersey and Frizell is at six.

Like replacement prop Karl Tu'inukuafe, the Tongan born Frizell was a late sighting on the All Blacks radar having only started in three of 10 games in his maiden Super Rugby year with the Highlanders.

In the backs, Damian McKenzie will start at flyhalf outside Aaron Smith with Sonny Bill Williams and Jack Goodhue forming a new midfield combination.

Williams was initially ruled out of the series after undergoing knee surgery but has been brought back into the side following a quicker than expected recovery.

In a back three reshuffle, Ben Smith moves to fullback to make way for Waisake Naholo to make his first appearance of the series on the right wing, with Rieko Ioane on the left.

Liam Coltman, whose one previous Test was two years ago, comes in as the reserve hooker with the untested Hemopo as the lock cover.

Mo'unga will earn his first Test cap as the replacement fly-half although he and Goodhue have had All Blacks experience having played in the midweek fixture against a France XV on last year's northern tour.

After the runaway win in the first Test, the All Blacks were brought down to earth by a determined French unit a week later.

Despite having a one-man advantage for most of the game after France fullback Benjamin Fall was sent off, the All Blacks struggled for parity and training this week has centered on getting core roles right.

"Our focus this week has been concentrating, firstly, on getting our individual processes done well, and then working on these collectively as a team," Hansen said.

"Another key focus has been our mental preparation, which needs to be bone deep and genuine.

"The French have proven to be a worthy opponent and very difficult to play, and we see this Test as another opportunity to improve our game."


New Zealand

15 Benjamin Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock (captain), 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Richie Mo'unga, 23 Jordie Barrett


15 Ben Fall, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Remi Lamerat, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Gael Fickou, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Morgan Parra (captain), 8 Kevin Gourdon, 7 Kelian Galletier, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Dany Priso

Substitutes: 16 Adrien Pelissie, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Felix Lambey, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 Maxime Medard

Read more on:    france  |  all blacks  |  sonny bill wil­liams  |  rugby


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