New Zealand recovered from an 11-8 deficit to score 44 unanswered points in a 52-11 opening Test win in Auckland which was marred by the double head fracture to France winger Remy Grosso in a collision with Sam Cane and Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “As we have a big focus right now on developing our game and working on our skillsets, connections and combinations, it isn’t beneficial to be making wholesale changes, if any at all, to the playing 23.
“Whilst we were really happy with the way we finished last weekend’s Test, we’re fully aware that we still have a lot of work to do over the rest of the Steinlager Series.
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“The French would’ve taken a lot of confidence out of their first 50 minutes on the weekend and will be coming to play on Saturday night. Therefore, it will require us to raise our game to an even higher level.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) June 13, 2018
“Rather than being inhibited by this, we’ll be embracing and walking towards the challenge. We’ll be looking to play our own high-energy game with real intent.
“When it comes to our performance, we know there are high expectations from our fans. This, in turn, demands that we drive our own expectations even higher.
Captain Samuel Whitelock will win his 98 cap while prop Owen Franks will pick up his 97th. Whitelock is the most capped All Blacks lock of all time and eighth on the list of most capped All Blacks, while Franks is the second most capped prop behind Tony Woodcock (118).
Cane is in the backrow, while prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi is among the replacements.
World Rugby came in for some stinging criticism over independent Citing Commissioner Freek Burger’s decision to issue Tu’ungafasi with just a warning over the tackle on France winger Grosso.
Tu’ungafasi insisted he never intended to hurt Grosso in a tackle that left the France wing with a double facial fracture.
Cane’s arm appeared to make contact with the head of Grosso, who was then hit in the face by Tu’ungafasi’s shoulder as he went to the ground.
A press release from World Rugby said “Having reviewed all available camera angles, the Citing Commissioner considered Ofa Tu’ungafasi to have executed a dangerous tackle “just short of” red card level (in accordance with World Rugby Regulation 17), which caused injury to France winger Remy Grosso.”
Both sides will be looking to move on from the affair which dogged the aftermath of the first Test.
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