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All Blacks team named to play France

allblacks.com     07 Nov 2013    

The squad, bolstered by three All Blacks centurions, features 853 Test caps in the starting XV plus a further 112 caps experience on the bench for a total of 965 caps. The 23-man squad has an average age of 26 and a half.

The team is (Test caps in brackets)

Starting XV:
1. Tony Woodcock (105)
2. Keven Mealamu (108)
3. Owen Franks (51)
4. Brodie Retallick (21)
5. Samuel Whitelock (48)
6. Liam Messam (26)
7. Richie McCaw - captain (121)
8. Kieran Read (58)
9. Aaron Smith (23)
10. Daniel Carter (98)
11. Charles Piutau (8)
12. Ma'a Nonu (85)
13. Ben Smith (23)
14. Cory Jane (43)
15. Israel Dagg (35)

Reserves:
16. Dane Coles (12)
17. Wyatt Crockett (21)
18. Charlie Faumuina (15)
19. Steven Luatua (9)
20. Sam Cane (14)
21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (12)
22. Aaron Cruden (27)
23. Ryan Crotty (2)

In the forwards, 105-Test veteran prop Tony Woodcock will pack down alongside his good friend and fellow All Blacks centurion, hooker Keven Mealamu, with 51-Test prop Owen Franks back from injury on the other side of the scrum. Locks Samuel Whitelock and Brodie Retallick are in the middle row, with Liam Messam at six, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw back at openside flanker in his 122nd Test, and Kieran Read at number eight.

In the backline, Aaron Smith is at halfback, with Daniel Carter in the ten jersey in his 99th Test, while veteran midfielder Ma'a Nonu is at 12 and Ben Smith at centre. Winger Cory Jane has recovered from his hamstring injury and returns to the side on the right wing, while Charles Piutau is on the left wing and Israel Dagg is at fullback.

On the bench, Wyatt Crockett and Charlie Faumuina are the prop reserves with Dane Coles reserve hooker and Steven Luatua and Sam Cane are the other forward reserves. In the back reserves, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Aaron Cruden are covering the inside backs, with Ryan Crotty midfield and outside back cover.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "France are one of our great rugby foes and there is a rich history of matches between our two countries, so we are certainly looking forward to this weekend.
"The full squad has come together well after the Japan Test and are united with a common purpose - to play well on this Air New Zealand European Tour and put in performances that we can all be proud of.

But we know this weekend's Test won't be easy - the French will come at us with real physicality, passion and something new.

"As well, the Dave Gallaher Trophy is again on the line, it means a lot to the team, and is certainly something extra to play for this weekend."

Interesting facts
* In Saturday's Test, the All Blacks will be wearing their alternate white strip which will be embossed with a red poppy on the sleeve to again mark Armistice Day (November 11), the anniversary of the end of the hostilities of World War I. Thirteen All Blacks lost their lives in World War I, including 1905-06 Originals Captain, Sergeant Dave Gallaher. The trophy, which France and the All Blacks play for, The David Gallaher Cup (Le Coupe de David Gallaher) is named in his honour.

* The All Blacks and France have played each other 54 times with some classic encounters in that time, including the 1987 and 2011 Rugby World Cup finals. They last played each other in the three-Test Steinlager Series in New Zealand in June, with the All Blacks winning all three matches. The All Blacks last played France in France in 2009 in Marseille, with the All Blacks winning 39-12. The last Test in Paris was in 2006.

* Daniel Carter last week became the first player in world rugby to kick more than 500 goals (conversions and penalties) in Test rugby (254 con, 250 pen).

* Richie McCaw last week became the most capped international Test captain, captaining the All Blacks for the 85th time in his 121st Test, surpassing Irishman Brian O' Driscoll's 84 Tests as captain.