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All Blacks to play France in New Plymouth named

allblacks.com     20 Jun 2013    


The All Blacks team to play France in the third and final Test of the Steinlager Series has been named.

The team is as follows: (with Test caps in brackets. * denotes a new cap)

Starting XV:

1. Wyatt Crockett (13)
2. Andrew Hore (75)
3. Owen Franks (46)
4. Luke Romano (13)
5. Samuel Whitelock (40)
6. Victor Vito (21)
7. Sam Cane (6)
8. Kieran Read - captain (50)
9. Piri Weepu (70)
10. Daniel Carter (94)
11. Rene Ranger (5)
12. Ma’a Nonu (78)
13. Conrad Smith (68)
14. Ben Smith (14)
15. Israel Dagg (27)

Reserves:
16. Keven Mealamu (103)
17. Tony Woodcock (97)
18. Ben Franks (25)
19. Steven Luatua *
20. Matt Todd *
21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (3)
22. Beauden Barrett (7)
23. Charles Piutau *

The 23-man squad features five personnel changes – one due to injury - from that which played in last week’s 30–0 Series–winning Test against France in Christchurch.

In the backs, Piri Weepu gets a start at halfback with Tawera Kerr–Barlow coming onto the bench; a fit–again Daniel Carter comes in for Aaron Cruden who is getting a much–needed rest; and Rene Ranger gets his first start of the Steinlager Series after two cameos off the bench, with Charles Piutau coming into the match day 23 to cover the outside backs.

In the forwards, Victor Vito comes off the bench to get his first start in 2013 allowing Matt Todd an opportunity to come onto the bench. While the starting locks remain the same, Steven Luatua comes onto the bench to cover both lock and the number six position. Meanwhile, in the front row, Dane Coles has suffered a calf strain and was unavailable for selection. He has been replaced in the starting XV by Andrew Hore with Keven Mealamu coming in as reserve hooker.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “While the Steinlager Series has been won, we certainly won’t be underestimating the French in this final match. We have put a full stop in last weekend’s performance and expecting further improvement from ourselves, and another hard, physical contest from the French.

“However, we are committed to continue building the depth in our squad and introducing new players to Test match rugby, hence why we have selected the team we have.”

Milestones
• This weekend’s Steinlager Series test is a sellout, with the last of the 23,300 tickets snapped up last week. The All Blacks have played France 53 times since 1906, with 40 wins to the All Blacks, 12 wins to France and the one draw. The All Blacks have played at Yarrow Stadium twice in recent years, against Samoa in 2008 and Ireland in 2010. New Plymouth also hosted three matches in Rugby World Cup 2011. France last played in New Plymouth on their 1984 tour beating Taranaki 30-18.

• The All Blacks most capped midfield combination, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, played their 45th Test together last weekend and have headed England’s Will Carling and Jeremy Guscott as the second most capped midfield partnership in international rugby. Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy hold the record with 50 Tests together.

• Meanwhile, New Plymouth’s Yarrow Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Smith – he scored two tries each time in the Tests against Samoa and Ireland.