Nonu replaces injured Smith for All Blacks
Centre Ma’a Nonu replaces the injured Conrad Smith in New Zealand’s team to play Australia in the opening Rugby Championship test in Sydney on Saturday, the New Zealand Rugby Union said on Thursday.
Nonu will partner Sonny Bill Williams in the centres, outside scrumhalf Aaron Smith and fit-again flyhalf Dan Carter.
Lock Luke Romano plays his second test alongside Sam Whitelock with Kieran Read at number eight and captain Richie McCaw and Liam Messam the two flankers.
“Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup contest brings two challenges,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.
“The first is our opponents who we clearly respect. But just as important is the second challenge, which is about us being better than we were before.
“The expectation this All Blacks team has is that it will strive to achieve these goals, both individually and collectively as a team.”
New Zealand team: 15-Israel Dagg, 14-Cory Jane, 13-Ma’a Nonu, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Hosea Gear, 10-Dan Carter, 9-Aaron Smith; 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw, 6-Liam Messam, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Luke Romano, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Keven Mealamu, 1-Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16-Andrew Hore, 17-Ben Franks, 18-Brodie Retallick, 19-Victor Vito, 20-Piri Weepu, 21-Aaron Cruden, 22-Ben Smith