New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named an unchanged side to face Australia’s Wallabies in the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday.
The line-up is the same as the one that defeated South Africa 20 / 18 in the semifinals last weekend.
The last time the All Blacks named an unchanged starting line-up between successive Rugby World Cup matches was in 2011, when they made no changes to the team that defeated Australia in the semifinals then beat France in the final.
13 Players in the current All Blacks 31-man squad were part of the triumphant 2011 Rugby World Cup squad and Tony Woodcock, would have made that 14 if he had not left injured.
The players hoping to win the Webb Ellis Cup for a 2nd time are Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Victor Vito, Dan Carter, Colin Slade, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Sonny Bill Williams.
Conrad Smith, Nonu, Woodcock, Mealamu, Owen Franks, Whitelock, Kaino, McCaw and Read all started in the 2011 Final and Williams came on as a replacement in that match.
Only 6 players have been part of 2 Rugby World Cup-winning campaigns: Australia’s Phil Kearns, Jason Little, Tim Horan, Dan Crowley and John Eales and South Africa’s Os du Randt.
McCaw extends a Rugby World Cup record in captaining his side for the 13th time in the competition. He also extends the world record for Test appearances to 148.
With his 22nd appearance in a Rugby World Cup match, McCaw equals the competition record held by England’s Jason Leonard.
Julian Savea is the leading try scorer at Rugby World Cup 2015 with 8. He jointly holds the record for tries in a single Rugby World Cup, a mark established by Jonah Lomu in and Bryan Habana in 2007.
Mealamu has been on the winning side in each of his past 15 Rugby World Cup appearances, a record streak for the competition.
All Blacks: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (Captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Sonny Bill Williams.
Date: Saturday 31 October
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-Off: 18:00 SA Time (16:00 UK Time, 16:00 GMT, Sunday 03:00 AEDT, Sunday 05:00 NZ Time)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Wayne Barnes (England)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)