New Zealand v England: Julian Savea returns to All Blacks XV
New Zealand v England: Julian Savea returns to the All Blacks starting line-up for second Test
Hurricanes wing Julian Savea returns to the All Blacks starting XV against England in the second Test in Dunedin on Saturday.
The 23-year-old’s inclusion, in place of injured full-back Israel Dagg, is the only change as New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen backs his team to improve on an underwhelming 20-15 win in the first Test last week.
Our mindset this week has been all about improvement, taking ownership and responsibility for our individual roles with the aim of delivering a team performance we can all be proud of
Savea missed the opening Test with a knee problem but has returned to fitness and Hansen will hope his try-scoring prowess—19 tries in 20 appearances—will give the All Blacks a boost as England’s star names also return.
Versatile Highlanders back Ben Smith, who put in the crucial assist for Conrad Smith’s 78th-minute try in Auckland, switches to full-back with Cory Jane switching to the right wing.
Hansen was unhappy with the nature of the All Blacks’ performance against a depleted England team and his squad have focused on getting their sharpness back.
“We are expecting another big contest this weekend and with England sure to make improvements in their game, we will have to improve massively ourselves,” Hansen said in a statement.
“We have worked hard on our skillsets, attitude and the detail in our game, which wasn’t up to All Blacks standard last week.
“Our mindset this week has been all about improvement, taking ownership and responsibility for our individual roles with the aim of delivering a team performance we can all be proud of.”
In the forwards, Jerome Kaino win his 50th cap at number 8 as Kieran Read again misses out despite training all week with the All Blacks coaches determining that he needs more conditioning before he is ready to return.
A win for New Zealand will secure the series with one Test to go, but England are confident of taking the series to the third Test in Hamilton on 21 June.
New Zealand: Ben Smith; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Tony Woodcock, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino.
Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Victor Vito; TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Malakai Fekitoa.