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All Blacks team to play Ireland

allblacks.com     22 Nov 2013    

The strong All Blacks line-up, which boasts 798 Test caps experience and an average age of 26, features two injury-enforced changes from the team that beat England last weekend. First five-eighth Aaron Cruden replaces Daniel Carter in the starting XV and prop Wyatt Crockett replaces Tony Woodcock. Those changes see first five-eighth Beauden Barrett and prop Ben Franks come into the reserves.

Wing Cory Jane also returns to the starting XV, replacing Charles Piutau, while in the forwards, lock Luke Romano starts, with Brodie Retallick on the bench; Steven Luatua is at blindside flanker with Sam Cane coming onto the bench to cover the loose forwards; and Andrew Hore takes Keven Mealamu's place at hooker.

The squad also features the inclusion of uncapped halfback TJ Perenara on the bench.

The team is (Test caps in brackets)

Starting XV:

1. Wyatt Crockett (23)
2. Andrew Hore (82))
3. Charlie Faumuina (16)
4. Luke Romano (16))
5. Samuel Whitelock (50)
6. Steven Luatua (10)
7. Richie McCaw - captain (123)
8. Kieran Read (60)
9. Aaron Smith (25)
10. Aaron Cruden (28)
11. Julian Savea (19)
12. Ma'a Nonu (87)
13. Ben Smith (25)
14. Cory Jane (44)
15. Israel Dagg (37)

Reserves:
16. Dane Coles (14)
17. Ben Franks (30)
18. Owen Franks (53)
19. Brodie Retallick (23)
20. Sam Cane (14)
21. TJ Perenara *
22. Beauden Barrett (15)
23. Ryan Crotty (4)

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "This Test against the Irish is another great opportunity for the team to put in a performance we can all be proud of. Though we have won the last two Tests on the Air New Zealand European Tour (against France and England), we would like to see an improvement on those two performances.

"We love playing in Ireland and have a lot of respect for the Irish. We well remember the second Test against them in Christchurch last year (when the All Blacks just won 22-19) and we know that if our minds aren't totally on the job in our preparation this week and in the game on Sunday, then we will suffer."

Interesting facts
* The All Blacks have played Ireland 27 times since 1905 with 26 wins to the All Blacks and a 10-all draw in Dublin in 1973. The teams last played in the Steinlager Series in New Zealand in June 2012. The last Test in Dublin was in 2010, with the All Blacks winning 38-18 on that occasion.

* All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu had his 94th Test match win (in his 110th Test) last weekend, heading former Australian captain George Gregan for the second most Test wins in history, behind All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw.

* Kieran Read has scored 15 tries from the No 8 position, a world record.