Frank Halai, Dominic Bird set to debut
October 31, 2013
Frank Halai was selected after a barnstorming season for Counties Manukau in the ITM Cup © Getty Images
Frank Halai and Dominic Bird will debut for New Zealand in the Test against Japan in Tokyo on Saturday, with Richie McCaw selected at No.8 and Tawera Kerr-Barlow to make his first starting appearance in his 12th Test.
Coach Steve Hansen said the management were looking forward to the opportunity to give the side's "less capped" players the chance to drive the All Blacks preparations.
"The three selectors have been very mindful of using this game to gather some information on our younger players, but also using it to provide [Richie] McCaw and Daniel Carter with some game time.
"We are expecting the Japanese to be very competitive, and it will be important that we respect them and engage them in the physical aspects of the game before attempting to play too much 'razzle-dazzle' type rugby. It's about earning the right to play. If we don't do this, we can get caught up in the type of game that suits them."
All Blacks: Beauden Barrett; Charles Piutau, Ben Smith, Francis Saili, Frank Halai; Daniel Carter, Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Richie McCaw (captain), Sam Cane, Steven Luatua; Dominic Bird, Jeremy Thrush; Ben Franks Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Andrew Hore, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Luke Whitelock, Aaron Smith, Tom Taylor, Ryan Crotty.
Follow live text commentary of the Test between Japan and New Zealand on Saturday, November 2 from 5.30pm (NZDT), 3.30pm (AEDT) and 4.30am (GMT)
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament