All Blacks ring the changes for Scotland test
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has unveiled a new midfield combination as part of sweeping changes to the starting side for the All Blacks’ test against Scotland in Edinburgh on Sunday.
Tamati Ellison earns his third cap at inside centre with Highlander team mate Ben Smith playing outside, displacing the veteran duo of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, and possibly hinting at the future first-choice combination for the team.
Another eight from the starting side that were held to an 18-18 draw by Australia last month will cool their heels on the sidelines or on the bench in the team named on Friday.
Hosea Gear makes way for winger Julia Savea, Piri Weepu comes back into scrumhalf at the expense of Aaron Smith, while Adam Thomson slots in at blindside flanker for Liam Messam in the Richie McCaw-captained side.
Victor Vito comes in at number eight with lock Luke Romano and hooker Andrew Hore, pushing out Kieran Read, Brodie Retallick and Keven Mealamu respectively.
Read is expected to lead the side next week against Italy as Hansen gives McCaw a rest and looks to a possible long-term successor as captain to the 113-test veteran.
Props Owen Franks and Wyatt Crockett come into a completely overhauled front row as the world champion All Blacks bid to continue their unbeaten record against Scotland.
“We have had a good build-up this week and the key for us has been to get our preparation spot on so we can put in a performance on Sunday which we are proud of,” Hansen said in a statement.
“However, we know that the Scots will lift for this Test match and we expect them to be very combative.”
Two uncapped players in hooker Dane Coles and scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow have been named on an eight-man bench, with the new International Rugby Board (IRB) rule now allowing an extra propping replacement.
Veteran All Blacks Nonu, prop Tony Woodcock and Ali Williams have been named on the bench.
Team: 15-Israel Dagg, 14-Cory Jane, 13-Ben Smith, 12-Tamati Ellison, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Daniel Carter, 9-Piri Weepu, 8-Victor Vito, 7-Richie McCaw (Captain), 6-Adam Thomson, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Luke Romano, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Andrew Hore, 1-Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16-Dane Coles, 17-Tony Woodcock, 18-Ben Franks, 19-Ali Williams, 20-Sam Cane, 21-Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22-Beauden Barrett, 23-Ma’a Nonu