Powerful All Blacks team named to face Springboks
Chiefs loosehead prop Kane Hames was the surprise package named in the All Blacks' starting 15 ahead of the Rugby Championship clash against the Springboks in Albany on Saturday.
The 29-year-old replaces the injured Joe Moody in one of eight changes made by All Black coach Steve Hansen from the side that beat Argentina 39-22 at the Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.
Starting Hames ahead of the seasoned Wyatt Crockett has been seen as a dicey move in New Zealand rugby circles and the media considering the Tasman prop is known for his support play and mobility and less for his scrummaging priority.
That will be tested against a South African pack that has improved with every game.
It will be his first start, having come off the bench in his previous two test but with the Boks also having to make a change at tighthead prop with Coenie Oosthuizen out with a broken arm and Frans Malherbe missing through injury, Hansen may have picked Hames with cognisance of the Boks' tighthead uncertainty even though Trevor Nyakane and Ruan Dreyer are proven performers.
Blindside flanker Liam Squire replaces Hurricanes breakout star Vaea Fifita, who drops out of the match-day 23 altogether with a shoulder problem while Aaron Smith returns to his normal number nine jersey in place of TJ Perenara, who drops to the bench.
Sam Whitelock also returned to the starting 15 ahead of Luke Romano, who didn't make the 23 as Scott Barrett was preferred to him on the bench,
Anton Lienert-Brown made way for Ryan Crotty who will start at outside centre alongside Sonny-Bill Williams while Nehe Milner-Skudder shifts to right wing as Israel Dagg continues to nurse a longstanding knee problem.
Blues winger Rieko Ioane, who has had a stunning start to his international will start on the left wing in what will be his seventh test.
Sam Cane also moves back into his preferred number seven jumper for his 48th test as Ardie Savea drops to the bench.
Springbok coach will announce his match-day 23 at 3pm New Zealand time (5am South African) time on Thursday with two expected injury enforced changes to be made in terms of replacing Oosthuizen and flanker Jaco Kriel.
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames. Reserves: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
South Africa: TBA