All Blacks make sweeping changes
November 22, 2013
TJ Perenara hopes finally to pull on the All Blacks jumper © Getty Images
TJ Perenara is set to become the 13th New Zealand debutant of 2013, and the 22nd since the All Blacks won the World Cup in 2011, having been named on the bench to play Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
Steve Hansen has otherwise made ten changes to the squad that defeated England at Twickenham, headlined by the injury-enforced replacement of Daniel Carter and Tony Woodcock with Aaron Cruden and Wyatt Crockett respectively. Those two changes see Beauden Barrett and Ben Franks come into the reserves.
Cory Jane also returns to the starting XV, replacing Charles Piutau, while Luke Romano replaces Brodie Retallick, Steven Luatua replaces Liam Messam at blindside flanker with Sam Cane moving onto the bench to cover the loose forwards, and Andrew Hore takes Keven Mealamu's place at hooker. Charlie Faumuina also starts as Hansen changed his entire starting front-row from Twickenham
"In the last nine weeks, we've gone round the world twice, and this will be our seventh test in nine weeks," Hansen said of his decision to change substantially the squad, particularly his pack. "We've had a big, physical game against Argentina, another physical performance in Johannesburg, a lot of running and chasing in Dunedin, then France was physical and England was physical.
"It's just the accumulation of a lot of travel and game-time. We need fresh legs and we've got ability sitting there fresh, so why not use them?"
Hansen said the challenge for Perenara on debut was to stay as relaxed as possible. "He was reasonably excited,'' he said of Perenara's reaction at being selected. "He just needs to contain that excitement and use it as a positive manner rather than being a bit like a demented moth around a lamp - don't get too energised and try to do everything at once.''
Hansen also said the Test was "another great opportunity for the team to put in a performance we can all be proud of ... though we have won the last two Tests [against France and England], we would like to see an improvement on those two performances. We love playing in Ireland, and have a lot of respect for the Irish. We well remember the second Test against them in Christchurch last year [when the All Blacks just won 22-19] and we know that if our minds aren't totally on the job in our preparation this week and in the game on Sunday, then we will suffer."
All Blacks: Israel Dagg; Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Steven Luatua; Samuel Whitelock, Luke Romano; Charlie Faumuina, Andrew Hore, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Dane Coles, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty.
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