All Blacks team named to play Wallabies
allblacks.com 15 Aug 2013
The All Blacks team has been named to play Australia in the first Bledisloe Cup and Investec Rugby Championship Test of the year at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Saturday, with a whirlwind few days for midfielder Ryan Crotty topped with selection on the All Blacks reserves bench.
The team is (Test caps in brackets):
1. Tony Woodcock (98)
2. Andrew Hore (76)
3. Owen Franks (47)
4. Luke Romano (14)
5. Samuel Whitelock (41)
6. Liam Messam (23)
7. Richie McCaw (capt.) (116)
8. Kieran Read (51)
9. Aaron Smith (15)
10. Aaron Cruden (22)
11. Julian Savea (11)
12. Ma'a Nonu (79)
13. Conrad Smith (69)
14. Ben Smith (15)
15. Israel Dagg (28)
16. Keven Mealamu (104)
17. Ben Franks (25)
18. Charlie Faumuina (7)
19. Brodie Retallick (14)
20. Sam Cane (7)
21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (4)
22. Beauden Barrett (8)
23. Ryan Crotty *
The All Blacks coaches have selected a hugely experienced team, with 874 caps in the team which boasts an average age of 27. Richie McCaw returns to the All Blacks and will again captain the side in his 117th Test.
The experienced trio of Andrew Hore, Owen Franks and Tony Woodcock, in his 99th Test, make up the front row; the locks are Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano; with number eight Kieran Read and blindside flanker Liam Messam joining McCaw in the back row. Aaron Smith starts at halfback, with Aaron Cruden in the playmaker role; the All Blacks most capped midfield pairing of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith are in their familiar 12 and 13 jerseys in their 80th and 70th Tests respectively; while the back three are the exciting trio of Ben Smith and Julian Savea on the wings, with Israel Dagg at fullback.
In the reserves, the key feature is the selection of new All Black Ryan Crotty. His ability to play at 12 and 13, and injuries to midfielder Francis Saili and first five-eighth Daniel Carter, have seen him fast-tracked onto the All Blacks bench following an impressive Investec Super Rugby season. Utility Beauden Barrett and halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow are the other back reserves, while the forwards reserves are hooker Keven Mealamu, props Ben Franks and Charlie Faumuina, lock Brodie Retallick and loose forward Sam Cane.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "There's huge excitement in the group as the Bledisloe Cup is a very important trophy for the All Blacks.
"With the changing of the guard in the Australian coaching group, it adds a little bit of the unexpected to the challenge. Therefore, we need to ready for anything they chuck at us.
"Whilst the expectations will be as high as they always are for the All Blacks to perform and win, I have a feeling there will also be huge expectations on the Australians because of the changes, and it will be interesting to see how their players and their new coaching team cope with this.
Hansen said the All Blacks had prepared well this week: "The expectation is to go over there and play with real intensity, physicality and accuracy."
The new scrum engagement laws will be used for the first time in the Investec Rugby Championship and Hansen said he was excited by the potential of the new scrummaging engagement.
"They will take some time to bed in, which is to be expected, but we believe they will bring great benefits for the game in the long-term."
The All Blacks squad flies into Sydney this evening. Meanwhile, prop Joe Moody and outside back Charles Piutau will also travel to Sydney with the playing squad.
Meanwhile, the following All Blacks squad members have also been released this week to play ITM Cup rugby if required, with All Blacks management keen for the players - who have not played much rugby in recent weeks - to get some extra game time. Those players are hooker Dane Coles, lock Jeremy Thrush and halfback TJ Perenara (for Wellington), wing Frank Halai (Counties Manukau) and flanker Steven Luatua (Auckland).
* All Blacks Richie McCaw, with 45 matches and Keven Mealamu (44) are closing in on the record of most matches played in the Tri Nations / Investec Rugby Championship, held by former Wallabies George Gregan (48) and Nathan Sharpe (47).
* The most Tests played by a player against a single nation is Gregan's 30 against South Africa. McCaw will equal that record this weekend with his 30th Test against Australia.
* The All Blacks have played Australia 146 times since 1903, with 99 wins to New Zealand, 41 to Australia and six draws. No team has ever been victorious in 100 Tests against a single opponent. England - with 73 wins over Ireland - is in second place.
* The All Blacks last played Australia in Brisbane last year, with 18-all the score that day.
The Investec Rugby Championship - All Blacks Tests
1. Australia (ANZ Stadium, Sydney, 8.00PM, Saturday 17 August)
2. Australia (Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 7.35PM, Saturday 24 August) LAST TICKETS ON SALE! Available at ticketek.co.nz or 0800 842 538
3. Argentina (Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, 7.35PM, Saturday 7 September) TICKETS SELLING FAST! Available at ticketdirect.co.nz or 0800 466 665
4. South Africa (Eden Park, Auckland, 7.35PM, Saturday 14 September) TICKETS SELLING FAST! Available at ticketmaster.co.nz or 0800 111 999
5. Argentina (Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, 7.40PM, Sat 28 September)
6. South Africa (Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 5.00PM, Saturday 5 October)