Perenara to front Boks

TJ Perenara will start for the All Blacks in place of disgraced scrumhalf Aaron Smith against the Boks in Durban on Saturday.

Smith has been sent back to New Zealand to face a hearing for misconduct, and as a result, Perenara will retain the No 9 jersey. The only change to the backline sees Waisake Naholo replacing Julian Savea on the left wing.

'Obviously he [Smith] is a world-class player and you want to be able to play him, but TJ has had three good stints there now,' All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said. 'It will just be business as usual. We expect him to play to his high standards and Tawera Kerr-Barlow will back him up.'

Hansen has made several changes to his pack ahead of what should be a fierce set-piece battle against the Boks. Sam Whitelock returns to the starting lineup, while Matt Todd and Jerome Kaino boost the back row.

The selection of Todd ahead of Ardie Savea at openside flank, is bound to raise a few eyebrows. The Hurricanes player has been in fine form, and troubled the Boks in Christchurch.

'Ardie has had a really busy campaign since Sam [Cane] has been injured and we just feel as a young player we're asking a lot of him and he would benefit from a breather and bringing him off the bench,' said Hansen.

'We've got a lot of faith and confidence in Matt Todd. We think he can start a Test and do a good job for us. It allows us to continue to grow Ardie without putting too much pressure on him.'

All Blacks – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 George Moala.

Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP

Post by

Jon Cardinelli