New Zealand All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen and his selectors have named their team to play in the Rugby championship opener against Australia’s Wallabies in Sydney.
There are three notable inclusions in the team and Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Kieran Read return to the side.
Whitelock has been included for the opening Bledisloe Cup Test and will play 100th Test for the All Blacks. He will become the first lock to win 100 caps for New Zealand and the eighth player to hit the century.
Retallick will play his first test since the match against South Africa last September. Read will play in his first Test since November.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “We’re all excited at what is shaping up to be another classic Bledisloe Cup encounter here in Sydney on Saturday night.
“We know that we have to earn the right to perform by preparing well and taking each moment that arises, and that mindset has been reflected in our preparation this week, which has been very good.
“The Bledisloe means a lot to this team and we have the opportunity to show just how much on Saturday night. As far as we’re concerned, neither team currently has possession of the Cup and if we want it, we’ve got to front up and take it.”
Hansen further added: “On behalf of the team, we want to congratulate Sammy on what will be a very special night for him and his family. We’re all very proud of him.”
“He’s been an outstanding contributor to this team for a long time, both on and off the field. To play one Test for the All Blacks is an achievement in itself, but to be good enough to be selected and play 100 Tests is a remarkable feat. In doing so, he will join what is a small group of very special All Blacks.”
Hansen also added: “It’s also great to have Brodie and Kieran back after their lengthy absences. They both bring special qualities to the team and we look forward to seeing them produce that again in the black jersey.”
15.Ben Smith 14.Waisake Naholo 13.Jack Goodhue 12.Ryan Crotty 11.Rieko Ioane 10.Beauden Barrett 9.Aaron Smith 8.Kieran Read (c) 7.Sam Cane 6.Liam Squire 5.Sam Whitelock 4.Brodie Retallick 3.Owen Franks 2.Codie Taylor 1.Joe Moody
Replacements 16. Nathan Harris 17. Karl Tu’inukuafe 18. Ofa Tuungafasi 19. Scott Barrett 20. Ardie Savea 21. TJ Perenara 22. Damian McKenzie 23. Anton Lienert-Brown