New Zealand fly-half Beauden Barrett said he was looking to "put a stake in the ground" against Wales at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow, with a "rusty" Dan Carter having been dropped from the match-day 23.
Coach Steve Hansen said he felt it was better not to risk his star fly-half, who had an injury-disrupted build-up to this tour, following his stuttering performance against Scotland last weekend.
"If he'd come through the other day probably a little bit better, he might have been on the bench, but it's impossible to ask a guy to have as much time off as he's had and not be rusty," Hansen said.
"It's great with him getting game time, we've got confidence that he's right and he's got confidence his body's right, he just needs to go home now and play Super Rugby and lots of it."
Barrett said he would try to grab his opportunity ahead of next year's World Cup, with Colin Slade named on the bench tomorrow and Aaron Cruden left out of the squad altogether.
"All of us fly-halves get on great but in training we are butting heads and all striving for that starting berth," said the 23-year-old Hurricanes man.
Richie McCaw will lead New Zealand for the 100th time and he is the only forward to retain his place after the 24-16 win over Scotland. There are five changes in the backs, too, with only wing Charles Piutau and full-back Ben Smith keeping their places.
Wales are hoping to arrest a run of 25 successive Test defeats against the All Blacks stretching back to 1953. One of those games came exactly 10 years ago yesterday when McCaw first captained the All Blacks, who edged the game 26-25.
McCaw will clock up his 137th appearance of his international career and his 100th as captain. Not bad for someone who "had four feet and couldn't catch a cold" as a schoolboy player.
Many a eulogy has been penned about McCaw in the intervening years, of his immense appetite for self-improvement, his extraordinary ability to influence a match, but Hansen's memory of watching a scrawny schoolboy playing for Otago Boys' High School was still a treat.
"He had four feet and couldn't catch a cold. But what he did have was a massive capacity to learn and to want to learn," said Hansen.
"He had a massive ticker and he wouldn't mind getting belted because he would keep coming back. You could run him over with a tractor and he would still get up and have another go." (© Daily Telegraph, London)