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Sonny Bill to hit 50

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Sonny Bill to bring up 50 as All Blacks name strong side for Bledisloe clash

Midfielder Sonny Bill Williams has been named to play in his 50th Test, a special milestone in a career which started in November 2010 when Williams made his Test debut against England.

The squad also features the return of several key players from injury. Joe Moody returns from his thumb injury and back into the number one jersey, while fellow prop Nepo Laulala is also back, named in the run on reserves. Liam Squire returns to the number six jersey while Brodie Retallick will make his return via the bench.

In other changes from the last Test side, TJ Perenara will start at halfback with Aaron Smith providing impact from the bench. Ben Smith moves to the right wing to make way for Damian McKenzie at fullback.  Matt Todd provides loose forward cover from the bench.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said this weekend’s Test in front of a passionate rugby crowd in Yokohama was the perfect way for the All Blacks to kick off their Vista Northern Tour.

“We’ll be up against a good Australian team and they’ll be desperate to win, but so are we. We know that they’ll come with a lot of passion and physicality, but our focus this week has been about us and what we want to bring – intensity, skill and a triple threat game.

“Being well prepared, clear in our roles and excited about the opportunity in playing this one-off Test against Australia in Japan, will be a good start in achieving a quality performance.”

Hansen added: “It’s great to have Joe, Nepo, Liam and Brodie, as well as Matt Todd, back.  As well as being world-class rugby players, they also add a lot of experience to the team, both on and off the track. We look forward to seeing them play again.

“The Test match will provide us with another great opportunity to put into practise what we have learnt throughout our recent Tests in the Rugby Championship, and grow our game in the first Test of what will be an exciting Vista Northern Tour.

“We’re also excited to be playing the first of our two Tests here in Japan.  The Japanese people have been fantastic hosts and the team has enjoyed the cultural aspects of our time here. We look forward to seeing them on Saturday and hopefully having their support.”

ALL BLACKS

1. Joe Moody (36)
2. Codie Taylor (38)
3. Owen Franks (103)
4. Samuel Whitelock (105)
5. Scott Barrett (25)
6. Liam Squire (20)
7. Ardie Savea (31)
8. Kieran Read – captain (114)
9. TJ Perenara (51)
10. Beauden Barrett (69)
11. Rieko Ioane (20)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (49)
13. Ryan Crotty (41)
14. Ben Smith (73)
15. Damian McKenzie (19)
16. Nathan Harris (18)
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (9)
18. Nepo Laulala (13)
19. Brodie Retallick (71)
20. Matt Todd (14)
21. Aaron Smith (79)
22. Richie Mo’unga (4)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (30)

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Sonny Bill to bring up 50 as All Blacks name strong side for Bledisloe clash