All Blacks squad laid out by virus but head coach Steve Hansen says they’ll be fit to play England
NEW Zealand have fallen victim to the Norovirus that is sweeping England, but coach Steve Hansen anticipates no withdrawals from his starting XV to face England.
All but two members of the All Blacks' squad have been afflicted by the vomiting and diarrhoea bug, which first struck before Saturday's 33-10 victory over Wales.
Many members of the touring party were confined to their rooms after being afflicted during yesterday's down day.
However, the worst of the illness has passed and Hansen expects the 23 selected against England this morning to take the field at Twickenham.
"It's been a difficult week because a lot of guys have been sick with diarrhoea and vomiting," he said.
"Getting the mix right in training has been difficult. Hopefully, we have been smart enough to keep the tanks full to play well.
"There are only two players who have escaped the virus. It started in Wales and has just continued.
"Apparently, half the UK have got it. If you hang around the team hotel too long we will give it to you too. It's a present from the colonials."
Number eight Kieran Read was one of those affected by the Norovirus yesterday.
"Personally I'm feeling a lot better today. The boys had a good guided tour of the bathrooms yesterday on their day off," he said.
"It's a 24-hour thing. It's just something you have to handle and we'll be all right for Saturday."
Fly-half Dan Carter starts against England after winning his battle with the Achilles/calf injury that sidelined him for Wales.
The world champions' squad numbers 788 caps in the starting line-up and 146 on the bench with skipper Richie McCaw leading the side for the last time before beginning a six-month sabbatical.
Two further changes to the XV sees hooker Keven Mealamu replace the suspended Andrew Hore, while lock Brodie Retallick is promoted to the second row in place of Luke Romano.
Of the 34 previous meetings between the rivals, New Zealand have won 27 with only one draw and they are seeking to extend their unbeaten run to 21 Tests.