Three changes to All Blacks bench
June 12, 2013
Highlanders hooker Andrew Hore comes onto the All Blacks bench in place of Keven Mealamu © Getty Images
It's a case of sticking with a winning formula for the All Blacks as coach Steve Hansen revealed an unchanged starting line-up for the second Test against France in Christchurch on Saturday.
Smith, too, keeps his spot on the right wing despite substitute Rene Ranger making all of the right noises with his opportunity from the bench, where he remains.
There are three changes to the replacements from the side that defeated France 23-13 in the opening Test at Eden Park, bolstering the side's experience in the process.
Hooker Andrew Hore, prop Tony Woodcock and halfback Piri Weepu - who have 239 Test caps between them - replace Keven Mealamu, Ben Afeaki and Tawera Kerr-Barlow respectively. The script couldn't have been written any better for No. 8 Kieran Read, who will run onto Addington's AMI Stadium to lead the side in his 50th Test match.
The occasion could also be a large one for Hore. Should he get the opportunity to run out onto Christchurch's newest stadium, the Highlanders hooker will play his 75th Test.
While a heavily significant match in the context of the series between New Zealand and France, Saturday's encounter also marks the hosts' 500th Test match.
New Zealand: Israel Dagg; Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Liam Mesam; Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock, Ben Franks, Jeremy Thrush, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Beauden Barrett, Rene Ranger.