Cruden gets nod at 10

Aaron Cruden staved off the attentions of Beauden Barrett and Dan Carter and will start at flyhalf for the All Blacks against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Cruden is one of only four players to retain his place in the side that turned out against the USA last weekend. Coach Steve Hansen has overlooked Malakai Fekitoa and Ryan Crotty in the midfield, instead opting for Sonny Bill Williams, while Kieran Read and Israel Dagg retain their positions.

For Cruden it was a vote of confidence and confirmation that the selectors had put his off-field indiscretions behind them. Barrett will provide an impact off the bench, while the Test against England seems to have come too soon for Carter, who is working his way back to fitness.

'Dan's fitness is fine, he just hasn't played enough rugby to play in a match like this,' said Hansen.

Another player to miss out is Fekitoa, with Ryan Crotty getting the nod on the bench ahead of the Highlanders centre.

'He just does the right things at the right time and sometimes at the end of a game you need that. He's continually improving all the time … he's a little bit like Conrad [Smith], he's an unsung hero.

All Blacks – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Liam Messam, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ryan Crotty.

Photo: Andrew Cornaga/BackpagePix