Old faces return to All Blacks
Thu, 21 Jun 2012 11:05p.m.
By Dylan Moran
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made six changes for the third Irish test in Hamilton on Saturday.
With Dan Carter ruled out with a hamstring strain, Aaron Cruden takes over at first five.
Richie McCaw makes his first start at number 8 as part of a reshuffled loose forward trio and Hurricanes number 10 Beauden Barrett gets his first call-up to the bench.
But the talking point is the recall of the Chiefs.
Flanker Liam Messam has already played in nine All Blacks tests, but the Waikato stalwart has one dream he'll finally get to tick off his list this weekend.
“It's my home patch and I’ve always dreamed about playing for the All Blacks here in the Waikato stadium so for that to come true on Saturday. Yeah [I’m] pretty excited.”
It will be an emotional match for Hosea Gear too - the Highlanders Winger seriously considered a big money offer to play in Japan earlier this year, but turned it down.
“It'll probably be even more special than maybe when I wore my first test, only because having decided to move away and then decided to stay again it's sort of like starting all over again. And here I got another shot and it might be the only one that I get so I want to make the most of that.”
Gear's inclusion comes as Zac Guildford and Julian Savea were both dropped, after a poor outing in Christchurch.
Sonny Bill Williams gets his third consecutive start against Ireland, and Hansen is not apologising for resting Ma'a Nonu.
The Blues second-five is getting to put his feet up after a hectic season of rugby, including a stint in Japan at the start of the year.
“It's just the way it is, and we had an opportunity to do it,” Hansen says. “We need him for later in the year, so we took that opportunity. Not to the detriment of the team, I might add as well, because we've got another bloke called Sonny Bill who has played pretty well.”
Meanwhile Ireland have made three changes with Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll happy to see the return of veteran midfielder Paddy Wallace - who only arrived in New Zealand this week.
“Paddy's an incredibly popular guy so any time we have someone like him come in I think he'll always add something, not just his playing ability but the character he is around the squad,” O’Driscoll says.
Last week, All Blacks fans were writing off the Irish chances, but they won't be making the same mistake in Hamilton.
All Blacks: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Hosea Gear, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Richie McCaw (capt), Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Brodie Retallick, Adam Thomson, Piri Weepu, Beauden Barrett, Tamati Ellison.
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Paddy Wallace, Keith Earls, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien, Kevin McLaughlin, Donnacha Ryan, Dan Tuohy, Mike Ross, Rory Best, Cian Healy. Reserves: Sean Cronin, Declan Fitzpatrick, Donncha O'Callaghan, Chris Henry, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Andrew Trimble.
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