Preview: Japan vs All Blacks
- 01 Nov 2013
New Zealand will be hoping to get their end-of-year tour off to a resounding start when they take on Japan in Tokyo.
If games against France, England and Ireland are the main course then the match on Saturday is the All Blacks' November starter.
Even with a much-changed line-up that includes two debutants in the XV, the world champions should run away with the win before setting off for Europe.
The new caps are Dominic Bird and Frank Halai, with the latter hoping to carry on the form that saw him finish Super Rugby as its top try-scorer. How the Japanese are going to halt Halai and the rest of this squad is the big question as Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau and Ben Smith may run riot.
While there is an experimental feel to the All Blacks this week, there still remains Richie McCaw and also the return to action of flyhalf Dan Carter. McCaw is moved to No 8 for this game as Kieran Read gets to put his feet up while Bird and Jeremy Thrush line up together for the first time.
An All Blacks clean sweep in this month looks on the cards as one can bet the pain from that 38-21 Twickenham loss of last year is spurring them on inside.
It would be fantastic to see the Brave Blossoms stay in the game for a decent amount of time, but this is the real world and with six wins from six during the Rugby Championship, New Zealand shouldn't have any trouble rolling past their first opponents since that Ellis Park epic.
Japan – 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Toshiaki Hirose, 13 Male Sau, 12 Craig Wing, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Harumichi Tatekawa, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani, 7 Michael Broadhurst, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Hitoshi Ono, 4 Shoji Ito, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Subs: 16 Yusuke Aoki, 17 Yusuke Nagae, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Luke Thompson, 20 Takashi Kikutani, 21 Kosei Ono, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Yoshikazu Fujita.
All Blacks – 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Richie McCaw (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Photo: Hannah Johnston/Getty Images
Lions must stick to their guns
The British & Irish Lions must be prepared to win 'ugly' if they are to level the Test series against the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
Lions stars boosted Boks
In-form Lions players emphatically vindicated their selections for the Springboks during the June series against France, which bodes well for the business end of Super Rugby, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
‘Boks should challenge All Blacks’
What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks' 35-12 win over France at Ellis Park.