Waisake Naholo and Anton Lienert-Brown have been drafted into the All Blacks line-up for the 2nd Test against the British and Irish Lions in Wellington.
Winger Naholo comes in on the right wing as Israel Dagg moves to full-back, with Lienert-Brown coming in at centre and Ngani Laumape being rewarded for his standout performance for the Hurricanes on Tuesday night, coming into the match day 23.
With Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty both injured, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen explained his changes as he looks to mastermind a win that will secure a Test series win.
“Whilst it’s disappointing to lose both Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty, it creates an opportunity for others. ‘Izzy’ (Israel Dagg) is a world-class back three player, as is Anton in the midfield, and both Waisake and Ngani are coming into the Test side following outstanding performances against the Lions for their respective Super franchises,” said Hansen.
“Whilst we were happy with the win last weekend, we know that it was just a start, in what is a three-test Series. That means the job is far from done. It’s going to require us to take our game to a higher level. It’s going to be very demanding, physically and mentally, on both sides.
“We’re aware the British and Irish Lions have their backs to the wall and will chuck everything at us to keep themselves alive in the Series. They are a quality side who we respect immensely.
“In reality, last week’s Test could’ve gone either way had they taken more of their chances. Our job will be to make sure that we shut down their counter-attack better than we did last weekend and at the same time, win the critical moments across the 80 minutes. As always, it’ll start with the battle of the tight five.
“We’ve worked hard throughout the week in our preparation here in Wellington and are now looking forward to Saturday.”
New Zealand team to play the British and Irish Lions in the second Test in Wellington on Saturday:
I Dagg; W Naholo, A Lienert-Brown, S B Williams, R Ioane; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, C Taylor, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, S Cane, K Read (capt).
Replacements: N Harris, W Crockett, C Faumuina, S Barrett, A Savea, TJ Perenara, A Crruden, N Laumape.
One of the first things you are taught as a player is don't compound an initial mistake with another error - don't make a bad situation any worse. Unfortunately that is precisely what Warren Gatland has done with his handling of the "geography six".
Warren Gatland's Tuesday began with him presumably choking on his porridge at the sight of himself depicted - for the second time - as a clown on the front page of a national daily newspaper and ended with him admitting that pressure from former players and the media forced his hand on a major selection decision.