Hansen retains starting XV for Second Test against France
The All Blacks team to play France in the second Test of the Steinlager Series has been named.
The team, which will be playing the All Blacks’ 500th Test, is as follows: (with Test caps in brackets. * denotes a new cap)
1. Wyatt Crockett (12)
2. Dane Coles (5)
3. Owen Franks (45)
4. Luke Romano (12)
5. Brodie Retallick (14)
6. Liam Messam (21)
7. Sam Cane (5)
8. Kieran Read – captain (49)
9. Aaron Smith (14)
10. Aaron Cruden (21)
11. Julian Savea (10)
12. Ma’a Nonu (77)
13. Conrad Smith (67)
14. Ben Smith (13)
15. Israel Dagg (26)
16. Andrew Hore (74)
17. Tony Woodcock (96)
18. Ben Franks (24)
19. Jeremy Thrush *
20. Victor Vito (20)
21. Piri Weepu (69)
22. Beauden Barrett (6)
23. Rene Ranger (4)
The All Blacks team features the same starting XV that played in last week’s 23–13 first up victory over the French at Eden Park.
There are three changes on the bench, with the hugely experienced Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock making their returns to the Test arena replacing Keven Mealamu and last week’s Test debutant Ben Afeaki respectively, while halfback Piri Weepu comes in for Tawera Kerr–Barlow.
Meanwhile, two All Blacks will achieve milestones on Saturday: All Blacks Captain Kieran Read is playing his 50th Test while hooker Andrew Hore looks set to play in his 75th Test off the bench.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said the team’s focus this week had been on continuing to bed in the team game plan, getting people clearer with their roles and working on the details within those roles.
“Clearly, there has also been a lot of work done on how we are going to approach the breakdown and I’m sure we will see an improvement there. Overall, we have had a good week’s preparation. It’s now about putting that preparation and hard work into a performance on the track that we can all be proud of.
“The French, however, may have their own ideas about that and one pleasing aspect from last week’s Test is that we have been left with no uncertainty just how tough this weekend’s Test will be. They have laid down the challenge to us that we will have to be at our very best to beat them.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand Rugby has announced the remaining two Test matches of the Series have sold out in Christchurch and New Plymouth. It means the All Blacks will have played all 2013 Steinlager Series Test matches in front of capacity crowds with Eden Park selling out at 46,000 last weekend, 21,000 set for Christchurch this weekend, and 23,400 in New Plymouth next weekend.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew welcomed the news of the sell-out fixtures as a great celebration of rugby.
“We are delighted that all three Test matches have sold out as this reinforces the support out there for rugby. We know that the All Blacks love running out in front of a full house, so this is fantastic news for the team, and for everyone getting behind them this weekend, and the next.”
The All Blacks have played France 52 times since 1906, with 39 wins to the All Blacks, 12 wins to France and the one draw. The French last played the All Blacks in Christchurch in 2003, with the All Blacks winning that day 31–23.
The All Blacks – 500 Test matches
• The All Blacks Test match at AMI Stadium (Addington) on Saturday will be the 500th Test match for the All Blacks and their 1,223rd game.
• The first New Zealand rugby team played against a Wellington XV at Newtown Park, Wellington, on 22 May 1884 with the national side winning 9–0.
• The first Test was against Australia in Sydney at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 15 August 1903, with the All Blacks winning 22–3.
• The number of All Blacks Test matches played has risen exponentially throughout history. The All Blacks played their 100th Test in 1959, 200th in 1982, 300th in 1996 and 400th in 2005.
• Richie McCaw has played in 116 Tests, almost a quarter of the total All Blacks Tests. Meanwhile, of the All Blacks who have played more than 50 Tests, centre Conrad Smith has had the most success, being in the winning side in 59 of his 67 Tests for a winning record of 88 percent.
• The All Blacks have had two 17 Test consecutive winning streaks – the first from 1965 to 1969 and the second in 2011–2012.
• The largest attendance at an All Blacks Test was in 2000 at the then Stadium Australia in Sydney when a record crowd of 109,874 watched the All Blacks snatch a dramatic 39-35 win over Australia.
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