Four changes from All Blacks

Date published: October 15 2015

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New Zealand have made four changes to their XV to face France on Saturday, with Wyatt Crockett, Brodie Retallick, Richie McCaw and Julian Savea coming in.

The quartet replace Tony Woodcock, Luke Romano, Sam Cane and Waisake Naholo.

The 988 caps of experience present in the starting XV make this the most experienced team in a RWC knockout match, and the second most in any RWC match after the All Black starting XV against Argentina earlier in this tournament.

With an average age of 29 years and 254 days, the starting XV is New Zealand's second oldest, also after the team which started the match against Argentina.

McCaw and Dan Carter are the only players in the matchday 23 who played in the 20-18 defeat by France in Cardiff at RWC 2007. Carter kicked 8 of New Zealand's points that day but went off with the scores level at 13-13.

Kieran Read and Ma'a Nonu were the only players in the matchday 23 who played in the 27-22 defeat by France in Dunedin in 2009, the last time the All Blacks were defeated by France. Nonu scored a try that day.

Captain McCaw will equal the record for most matches as captain at a Rugby World Cup (11) currently held by Will Carling, Martin Johnson (both ENG), Raphael Ibañez (FRA) and John Smit (RSA). Wales captain Sam Warburton will also equal this record in Saturday's opening quarter-final. 

Carter needs to score 18 points to join compatriot Andrew Mehrtens in fifth place on the all-time RWC points list with 163. Grant Fox is New Zealand's top RWC scorer with 170.

Nonu and Conrad Smith become the first centre partnership to start 60 test matches together. They have won their last 16 together and were last on the losing side three years ago, against England at Twickenham. 

The back-row partnership of Jerome Kaino, McCaw and Read start their sixth World Cup match together, one behind the competition record which will be set earlier in the day by Wales' back-row of Dan Lydiate, Warburton and Taulupe Faletau.

Kaino, Read and McCaw start their 31st test together, a total beaten only by England's back three of Neil Back, Richard Hill and Lawrence Dallaglio (37).

Locks Retallick and Sam Whitelock start their 27th test together, equalling New Zealand's pro era record set by Chris Jack and Ali Williams. The all-time All Black record is 45 by Robin Brooke and Ian Jones.

New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Sonny Bill Williams.

Date: Saturday, October 17
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 20:00 local
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), John Lacey (Ireland)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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