All Blacks make five changes for Aaron Smith's 100th test
Head coach Ian Foster has made five changes to the team that ran out against Fiji last month.
Captain Samuel Whitelock will partner Brodie Retallick in the second row, who’s rapidly readjusting to the intensity of test rugby after a year-long absence. In the loose forwards, Ardie Savea shifts to the back of the scrum while Dalton Papalii, freshly returned from a lingering calf injury, will slot in at No 7.
Smith, who will become the first All Blacks halfback to play 100 tests, will partner Richie Mo’unga – who has won the battle with Beauden Barrett to guide the team around the park as the key playmaker.
David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown will also continue to build on their partnership in the midfield.
Luke Jacobson will cover all three loose forward roles off the bench while Brad Weber has unsurprisingly been named as back-up to Smith.
Brothers Beauden and Jordie Barrett will cover the remaining backline positions.
“There is huge excitement in our group at what lies ahead this weekend,” said Ian Foster. “There is such a huge history with the Bledisloe Cup, the rivalry between the All Blacks and Australia goes back a long, long way, and it’s always a massive contest. The Cup isn’t ours; we have to go out and win it again. We can’t wait for the weekend.”
On Aaron Smith’s special milestone, Foster said: “He’s a special man, he’s achieved so much in the black jersey and has been an iconic player for us over the last decade. We know it’ll be a special night for him, his wife Teagan and his family.”
Saturday’s match kicks off at 7:05pm NZT from Eden Park in Auckland.
All Blacks: Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Dalton Papalii, Akira Ioane, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, George Bower. Reserves: Dane Coles, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Angus Ta’avao, Scott Barrett, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett.
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