The New Zealand All Blacks team to face the Springboks in The Rugby Championship on Saturday at Emirates Airline Park contains 2 Test debutants amongst other changes.
Lock James Broadhurst and flyhalf Lima Sopoaga will line up to make their Test debuts for the All Blacks. Sopoaga comes in for Daniel Carter at flyhalf and Broadhurst takes over from Luke Romano.
In other changes in the starting 15, Dane Coles comes in at hooker, with Liam Messam at blindside flank. In the backs, Aaron Smith returns to the starting scrumhalf position, while the world-record midfield combo of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith is back.
As well, with a desire to continue to give Israel Dagg more game time, Ben Smith is named on the right wing.
On the bench, Ben Franks comes in as reserve prop alongside Wyatt Crockett, Codie Taylor retains the reserve hooker jersey, Sam Whitelock is reserve lock, with Victor Vito covering the loose forwards. TJ Perenara is reserve scrumhalf, with Beauden Barrett and Malakai Fekitoa the other backs on the pine.
Broadhurst and Sopoaga will be surrounded by a hugely experienced All Blacks side, with the starting forward pack boasting a total of exactly 500 Test caps, with a further 320 caps in the starting backline and 217 on the bench.
New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will have some big selection decisions to make this week, as his team prepares to take on South Africa’s Springboks at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.
Having rested the bulk of the All Blacks who featured in the all-New Zealand Super Rugby Final (between the Hurricanes and Highlanders) in the 1st 2 Tests of the year, he has to decide how many of them will now be unleashed on the Springboks.
Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, Conrad Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, Ben Franks, Victor Vito and James Broadhurst are all keen to get a run against Springboks in their Rugby Championship outing on Saturday.
Probably the most interesting selection would be what combination he chooses to oppose South Africa’s exciting new midfield pairing of Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende.
The past few years has seen Rugby’s world be dominated by one group of Villains that we have come to respect, hate, admire, deride, sledge and applaud. Let’s take a look at these Bad Guys and their alter-egos – whilst not forgetting that most of these guys eventually get their comeuppance. – Enjoy!
15. Ben Smith -Keyser Soze – The usual Suspects
This is one of those moments where we are lulled into a false sense of security. The guy looks harmless enough and seems to melt into the background when surrounded by other more unsavory types. But it is with the Big reveal that things unfold and the manipulator truly emerges.
After much speculation in the media the Highlanders are happy to announce today that Aaron Smith has re-signed with the Highlanders for two more years through to the end of the Super Rugby season in 2016.
Smith said “I love living and playing rugby in Dunedin, it’s my home and I couldn’t think of a better place to be.”
“I love the team and can’t wait to get back out on the field in front of our home fans in 2015”.
Jamie Joseph has named his Highlanders side to take on the Rebels this Friday night at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Shaun Treeby comes in at the expense of Phil Burleigh who sits out the match due to injury.
Aaron Smith has had an early reminder of the standards that go along with being an All Black, the young Manawatu halfback benched for Saturday’s test against the Springboks for breaking a team recovery protocol.