Naholo slots back into All Blacks starting team

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waisake Naholo will slot straight back into a starting wing spot against South Africa, after six weeks out with a hamstring injury.

Naholo's selection pushes Julian Savea out of the team, in one of six changes to the All Blacks' match day 23 for the Springboks clash.

In the forwards, Sam Whitelock returns to the starting team, replacing Patrick Tuipulotu, while Jerome Kaino steps into the number six and Matt Tood will play openside flanker, with Ardie Savea shifting to the pine.

Waisake Naholo injured his hamstring against the Wallabies in August. Photo: Getty ImagesCharlie Faumuinan will also make his matchday comeback, selected over Ofa Tu'ungafasi in the reserves.

Usual halfback Aaron Smith has not been considered, after being suspended with the emergence of his involvement in  a toilet tryst at Christchurch Airport last month, with TJ Perenara retaining the starting scrumhalf spot.

Centre George Moala is the final change to the side, with Damian McKenzie dropping out of the 23.

 All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said his side would be wary of a confident Springboks outfit, after the South Africans ground out a win over the Wallabies last weekend.

Charlie Faumuina will come on to the bench. Photo: Getty Images"The selectors believe we have picked a strong combination for this Test. We've been able to bring fresh players back into the group which is vital at this time of the year and allows us to continue to grow some depth," he said.

"We are especially looking forward to this game as any Test match against South Africa is seen as one of the matches of the season.  We're expecting to be facing a very confident South African team after their win over Australia, and a torrid battle against our traditional foe.  We're expecting them to throw the kitchen sink at us.

"We've had a well-planned preparation this week, with the aim of ensuring that we have a full tank come Saturday, and also clarity in our game so that we can bring our own physicality and intensity to the contest."

The Springboks host the All Blacks in Durban, kicking off 2:05am AEDT.

All Blacks team

1. Joe Moody 

2. Dane Coles

3. Owen Franks

4. Brodie Retallick

5. Samuel Whitelock

6. Jerome Kaino

7. Matt Todd

8. Kieran Read - capt

9.  TJ Perenara

10. Beauden Barrett

11. Waisake Naholo

12. Ryan Crotty

13. Anton Lienert-Brown

14. Israel Dagg

15. Ben Smith 


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