7 Jun 2014

All Blacks name team for first test of the year

3:58 pm on 7 June 2014

World Cup winner Jerome Kaino's All Blacks comeback is complete with the Blues loose forward named to start New Zealand's first test of the year against England in Auckland on Saturday night.

Kaino will pack down at No.8 following the withdrawal of last year's international player of the year, Kieran Read, due to ongoing concussion issues.

Coach Steve Hansen's first team of the year includes three un-capped players on the bench with Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara, Blues lock Patrick Tuipolotu and Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa all in line to make their All Black debuts.

As expected Aaron Cruden starts at first-five with Beauden Barrett on the bench, while Cory Jane and Ben Smith are on the wings with Julian Savea ruled out with a knee injury.

Liam Messam starts at number six, with captain Richie McCaw at openside and Victor Vito providing cover off the bench.

Flanker Sam Cane was ruled out with injury.

Dane Coles starts at hooker, while Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith resume their long-standing partnership in the midfield.

There's plenty of experience in the side with 968 caps in the match-day 23, which has an average age of 27.

The All Blacks and England will again be playing for the Hillary Shield which honours Sir Edmund Hillary.

The All Blacks are the current holders after beating England 30-22 last year to reclaim the Shield they lost in 2012.

The two sides have played 36 times since 1905 with 28 wins to the All Blacks, seven losses and one draw.

All Blacks team for opening Hillary Shield Test: (*uncapped)

Starting XV:

1. Tony Woodcock (107)

2. Dane Coles (15)

3. Owen Franks (54)

4. Brodie Retallick (24)

5. Samuel Whitelock (51)

6. Liam Messam (29)

7. Richie McCaw - captain (124)

8. Jerome Kaino (48)

9. Aaron Smith (26)

10. Aaron Cruden (29)

11. Cory Jane (45)

12. Ma'a Nonu (88)

13. Conrad Smith (75)

14. Ben Smith (26)

15. Israel Dagg (38)


16. Keven Mealamu (110)

17. Wyatt Crockett (24)

18. Charlie Faumuina (17)

19. Patrick Tuipulotu *

20. Victor Vito (22)

21. TJ Perenara *

22. Beauden Barrett (16)

23. Malakai Fekitoa *