Ryan Crotty starts for All Blacks

Date published: September 12 2018

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has made several changes to his side to face South Africa, with Ryan Crotty returning at inside centre.

Crotty returns to the 12 jersey, with Anton Lienert-Brown at outside centre.

Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett will resume their half-back partnership, starting their 28th Test together, with TJ Perenara providing cover off the bench.

Rieko Ioane returns from injury to the left wing, while Ben Smith moves to the right wing to make way for Jordie Barrett at full-back. Sonny Bill Williams is also back after his two-and-a-half-month injury layoff, on the bench alongside Damian McKenzie.

There are several changes in the forward pack from last weekend as Samuel Whitelock moves into the number four jersey, with Brodie Retallick injured, and Patrick Tuipulotu comes onto the bench as lock cover for his first Test of 2018.

Liam Squire and Sam Cane will again don the six and seven jerseys respectively, with Ardie Savea moving to the bench. Hooker Liam Coltman will provide hooker coverage from the bench, in his third Test.

“We’ve had a good week’s preparation here in the capital focussing on what we need to bring to the game through our skillsets, the intensity of our play and our energy,” said Hansen.

“We know that we’ll have to be at our very best in all these areas to counter an opposition we know will be desperate following their back-to-back losses. That means we’ll have to respond with a quality performance and a real hunger to be better. You just have to look at our last encounter in Cape Town to understand what kind of beast we will be facing.”

Hansen also added that the team was looking forward to playing in front of their home fans in the last home Test of 2018.

“We love playing here and the Westpac Stadium crowd really get behind the team. It’s our last home Test of the year (before away matches in Argentina and South Africa and the Northern Tour), so it’ll be a massive boost for the team playing in front of a passionate Wellington crowd,” he said.

New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Sonny Bill Williams, 23 Damian McKenzie

Date: Saturday, September 15
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:35 local (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gaüzère (France), Nic Berry (Australia)
Television match official: Rowan Kitt (England)