Planet Rugby

All Blacks' big guns return

07th November 2013 05:44


Richie McCaw ABs training 2013

Richie McCaw: Back at seven

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has made wholesale changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with France in Paris.

Hansen has put his faith in experience and named the most capped All Blacks team in history.

The squad, bolstered by three All Blacks centurions - captain Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock - features 853 Test caps in the starting XV plus a further 112 caps experience on the bench for a total of 965 caps.

There are multiple changes to the side which beat Japan in Tokyo last weekend with just four players - McCaw, Dan Carter, Charles Piutau and Ben Smith - retaining their places in the starting line-up.

McCaw though returns to openside flank while Piutau switches wings.

Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Ma'a Nonu and Aaron Smith return to the back-line, while Kieran Read, Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock,Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock are back in the pack.

"The full squad has come together well after the Japan Test and are united with a common purpose - to play well on this European tour and put in performances that we can all be proud of," Hansen said.

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

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Charles Piatau, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (capt), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ryan Crotty.

Date: Saturday, November 9
Kick-off: 21:00 (local)
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Assessor: Tappe Henning (South Africa)

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