All Blacks make two changes for Boks clash
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Hosea Gear returns to the All Blacks in place of Julian Savea in the most surprising of two changes to the team to face South Africa in Soweto on Sunday (AEDT).
Veteran left winger Gear and lock Brodie Retallick are the only new faces in the starting XV from the side who beat Argentina 54-15 in La Plata last weekend to wrap up the inaugural Rugby Championship.
With the All Blacks seeking a six-from-six clean sweep of the competition, coach Steve Hansen has stuck largely to his core group of players although the demotion of impressive youngster Savea from the 22 was unexpected.
Gear will play just his 12th Test since his debut in 2008 and his first since the 22-0 defeat of Australia in August. The dynamic Savea has impressed in the three Tests since but makes way for the 28-year-old.
Retallick pushes Luke Romano to the bench, with Hansen wary of protecting several facial gashes on Romano.
The gashes have prevented Romano from training fully this week, resulting in Retallick’s promotion for his ninth Test.
It is the fifth time Hansen has changed his starting lock combination this year.
Other changes to the reserve bench have resulted in prop Ben Franks, flanker Adam Thomson and outside back Tamati Ellison taking the places of Charlie Faumuina, Sam Cane and Ben Smith respectively.
It is the first Rugby Championship selection for seasoned loose forward Thomson, who has played second fiddle to Liam Messam and Victor Vito.
“We are in no doubt how big the challenge is for the team this weekend but it is one we are looking forward to as it will be a real test of our resolve and character,” Hansen said in a statement.
© AFP 2013
New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Daniel Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Tamati Ellison, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu, Adam Thomson, Luke Romano, Ben Franks, Keven Mealamu.
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