SBW, Cruden to start for All Blacks

Date published: October 30 2014

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named a starting XV combining youth and experience for Saturday’s clash with the USA in Chicago.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named a starting XV combining youth and experience for Saturday’s clash with the USA in Chicago.

The starting backline features the experienced duo of Israel Dagg at fullback and Cory Jane on the right wing, with Charles Piutau on the left wing.

Sonny Bill Williams returns to the All Blacks midfield for his first game since August 2012, starting in the 12 jersey alongside Ryan Crotty at outside centre.

Aaron Cruden returns to the playmaker’s role in the 10 jersey, with TJ Perenara at scrum-half.

The team will be captained by number eight and 2013 IRB Player of the Year Kieran Read, who will lead the side for the eighth time in his 70th Test.

Also in the forwards, Sam Cane starts at openside flanker with Victor Vito on the blindside; Jeremy Thrush and Patrick Tuipulotu are the locking duo in the second row.

In the front row, hooker Nathan Harris gets his first Test start after coming off the bench against Argentina last month; Joe Moody also gets his second Test start at loosehead prop, with Charlie Faumuina at tighthead.

Young Counties Manukau and Chiefs scrum-half Augustine Pulu has the opportunity to make his Test debut from the bench on Saturday, while All Blacks Test centurion and world rugby’s leading points scorer, fly-half Daniel Carter also makes his return from injury from the bench. Wing Julian Savea has also been named as the outside back cover.

In the forwards reserves, the All Blacks have the experienced 120-Test veteran Keven Mealamu to call on, together with his fellow front rowers Wyatt Crockett and Ben Franks. Brodie Retallick is the reserve lock, with Liam Messam reserve loose forward.

Hansen said: “This is going to be an exciting occasion for the team, playing the USA in front of a record crowd here in Chicago, and it’s great to be here representing the All Blacks and New Zealand.

“It’s another chance for those selected to pull on the jersey and play well. On this MyRepublic Northern Tour, we want to give all players in the squad the opportunity to grow their game – and we also want to develop our game as a team – and it starts on Saturday.

“While we are giving a number of players another opportunity this weekend, our expectation is that they will play to the highest level and we get a quality performance.”

The All Blacks have played the US three times, most recently at the 1991 Rugby World Cup in Gloucester when the All Blacks won 46-6. The teams also played in 1980 in San Diego, California, and in 1913 in Berkeley, California.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Victor Vito, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Daniel Carter, 23 Julian Savea.

Date: Saturday, November 1
Kick-off: 15:00 local (20:00 GMT)
Venue: Soldier Field Stadium, Chicago
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Chris Assmus (Canada), tba (Canada)
Television match official: tba (Canada)