Rugby Championship News

Richie McCaw returns to captain All Blacks




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New Zealand Rugby coach Steve Hansen has named Richie McCaw as captain of the All Black team that will play Australia’s Wallabies in the opening Rugby Championship clash on Saturday.

Thirty-two-year-old McCaw only recently returned to playing rugby after a six month sabbatical by coming off the bench twice for the Crusaders in their Super Rugby play off matches.

McCaw missed all three of the All Blacks Rugby Championship matches against France in June but will start against Australia.

McCaw will win his 117th Test cap and become the only player to have ever played Australia in 30 Tests.

Centre Ryan Crotty has been named on the bench and is the only uncapped player in New Zealand’s 23-man squad who will be the first to play Australia under new coach Ewen McKenzie

“With the changing of the guard in the Australian coaching group, it adds a little bit of the unexpected to the challenge,” Hansen said.

“Therefore, we need to be ready for anything they chuck at us.”

Aaron Cruden replaces the injured Dan Carter at fly-half, while Aaron Smith slots in for dropped half-back Piri Weepu.

In the centres, Ma’a Nonu retains his place alongside Conrad Smith despite failing to find a berth with a Super 15 team next season.

Nonu was nursing an ankle problem earlier this week, so Crotty, who was only called into the training squad last Sunday after Frank Saili was injured, will provide cover from the bench.

Veteran Andrew Hore was named as the starting hooker, with Keven Mealamu warming the bench and Dane Coles not making the trip to Sydney.

Julian Savea replaces France-bound Rene Ranger on the wing, earning his 11th Test cap.

New Zealand

15.Israel Dagg, 14.Ben Smith, 13.Conrad Smith, 12.Ma’a Nonu, 11.Julian Savea, 10.Aaron Cruden, 9.Aaron Smith, 8.Kieran Read, 7.Richie McCaw (captain), 6.Liam Messam, 5.Sam Whitelock, 4.Luke Romano, 3.Owen Franks, 2.Andrew Hore, 1.Tony Woodcock

Replacements: 16.Keven Mealamu, 17.Ben Franks, 18.Charlie Faumuina, 19.Brodie Retallick, 20.Sam Cane, 21.Tawera Kerr.Barlow, 22.Beauden Barrett, 23.Ryan Crotty

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