Tom Taylor to make his test debut for All Blacks

by staff

The All Blacks team to play the Qantas Wallabies in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship match at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, this Saturday has been named, with young Crusaders flyhalf Tom Taylor to make his All Blacks debut.

Prop Tony Woodcock is also set to reach a significant milestone, named to play his 100th Test for the All Blacks. Woodcock will become only the fourth All Blacks Test centurion behind All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw (117 Tests), Keven Mealamu (105) and Mils Muliaina (100).

The starting XV features two injury-enforced changes from the team that started last week's Bledisloe Cup Test, with lock Brodie Retallick coming in for Luke Romano and new All Black Tom Taylor slotting in at flyhalf for Aaron Cruden.

In the reserves, hooker Dane Coles comes back into the matchday 23, as does a fit-again prop Wyatt Crockett, while Jeremy Thrush comes onto the bench as lock cover. In the backs, first five-eighth Colin Slade returns to the All Blacks for the first time since 2011, replacing the injured Beauden Barrett. With Taylor and Ben Smith able to cover the midfield, back three specialist Charles Piutau has been brought in to replace Ryan Crotty as outside back cover.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "We want to firstly congratulate Tom on his selection in the starting XV. He is mentally tough and plays the game with a lot of confidence and maturity.

These factors, along with his assured goalkicking under pressure, has made this an easy selection. We have every faith that he will handle the occasion with aplomb.

"We also want to congratulate "Woody" (Woodcock) on what will be his 100th Test. He is a hugely respected player within the group who always puts the team first. It has been business as usual for him and the team this week, but we will enjoy acknowledging his achievement with him after the game."

Hansen believes the Wallabies will potentially be a more dangerous opponent this weekend, after their 47-29 loss in Sydney.

"They will be hurting after that Test and will throw everything at us. They will be looking to play with more accuracy and intensity so, therefore, we will need to meet - or better that - with a higher level of execution right across the board, if we are to be successful."

Meanwhile, the following All Blacks wider squad players have also been released this week to play in Week 2 of the ITM Cup if required: Frank Halai (Counties Manukau), Joe Moody (Canterbury) and Brad Shields (Wellington).

The All Blacks team to play the Wallabies is (Test caps in brackets):

Starting XV:

1. Tony Woodcock (99)

2. Andrew Hore (77)

3. Owen Franks (48)

4. Brodie Retallick (15)

5. Samuel Whitelock (42)

6. Steven Luatua (2)

7. Richie McCaw - captain (117)

8. Kieran Read (52)

9. Aaron Smith (16)

10. Tom Taylor *

11. Julian Savea (12)

12. Ma'a Nonu (80)

13. Conrad Smith (70)

14. Ben Smith (16)

15. Israel Dagg (29)


16. Dane Coles (6)

17. Wyatt Crockett (14)

18. Charlie Faumuina (8)

19. Jeremy Thrush (1)

20. Sam Cane (8)

21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (5)

22. Colin Slade (10)

23. Charles Piutau (1)

Interesting facts

- Tony Woodcock will become the All Blacks fourth Test centurion behind All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw (117 Tests), Keven Mealamu (105) and Mils Muliaina (100).

- McCaw will play his 31st Test against Australia this weekend - a new record for the most Tests played by a player against one country.

- McCaw will also play his 118th Test match this weekend and become the fifth-equal most capped international player (with French lock Fabien Pelous). England prop Jason Leonard is fourth on 119, the Irish duo of Ronan O'Gara (130) and Brian O' Driscoll (133) are next, with Australian halfback George Gregan the current record holder with 139 caps.

- The All Blacks have played Australia 147 times since 1903, with 100 wins to New Zealand, 41 to Australia and six draws. The All Blacks are the first team to record 100 Test wins against a single opponent.

- The All Blacks have recorded 380 Test wins (out of 502 Tests for a winning percentage of 75.6 percent) and are moving in on France's record of 382 Test wins (in 695 Tests).