All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says scrumhalf TJ Perenara has earned a start against the Wallabies in Yokohama on Saturday.
Perenara will wear the No 9 jersey in the third Bledisloe Cup Test having played most of the Rugby Championship as a substitute for Aaron Smith.
However, with the Test being rendered a dead-rubber, Hansen told reporters in Japan that the All Blacks felt they had room to change their selections.
‘We just felt that, for this game, the Bledisloe’s already been wrapped up – we can experiment a little,’ Hansen said. ‘TJ deserves to get a start against a good side, so that’s what we’re doing this week.
‘One’s a really quick ball passer, the other one’s a good defender. One’s really physical and one’s really nippy. Subtly, that’s different.
‘The challenge for them is to keep the strengths they have, and grow the strengths that the other one has.’
Hansen talked up the rivalry between the two sides, despite the Wallabies winning just two Tests against the All Blacks since 2015.
‘There’s a close bond with the Anzacs. That same closeness breeds a fierce competitive challenge, and I think they’re the same. It becomes difficult if one side has more success than the other, but there’s definitely a mark of respect from our guys.
‘We love playing them, they love playing us. We love beating them and they love beating us.’
Photo: Ross Setford/Reuters