• Cruden back for Bok clash

    Aaron Cruden will start at flyhalf in one of three changes to the All Blacks side to face the Springboks in Wellington.

    Cruden has recovered from a chest injury to take his place in the starting XV for the match, which could go a long way in deciding the Rugby Championship. Cruden was forced to miss the victory over Argentina, where Beauden Barrett showed some impressive touches in his first start in the No 10 jersey at Test level. Barrett finds himself back on the bench, despite that showing, but could well be used to make an impact later on.

    The two other changes are injury enforced, after Liam Messam and Sam Whitelock were ruled out earlier this week. As expected, Jeremy Thrush slots into the second row as he did for an industrious 50-odd minutes against the Pumas, while Steven Luatua comes in for Messam in a straight swap. Luatua will provide the All Blacks with an added lineout option to counter the threat posed by Victor Matfield. Sam Cane will continue to provide cover, as does Blues lock Patrick Tuipolotu, who has recovered from injury to take his place on the bench.

    Coach Steve Hansen made mention of the Springboks' need to pick up a win, following their disappointing last-gasp loss to the Wallabies in Perth last weekend.

    'This week we have to find a desperation and hunger in our performance because we know that that is something the South Africans will be bringing after their loss to Australia.

    'As well they have already stated they have a desire to get a win against us.'

    All Blacks – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
    Subs: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Joe Moody, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Cory Jane.

    Rugby Championship teams (Round 4)

    Photo: Andrew Cornaga/BackpagePix