Scott Barrett will start against England in defending champions New Zealand’s blockbuster Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday.
Barrett is the only change to the starting All Blacks team who crushed Ireland in the quarter-finals last week, New Zealand announced Thursday.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has opted for Barrett over Sam Cane in Yokohama, with the latter dropping to the bench.
Ardie Savea will move to openside flanker for Barrett to take his place at six against England, who eased past Australia in the last eight.
New Zealand skipper Kieran Read will earn his 126th international cap after overcoming a calf injury, while he will also equal former hooker Sean Fitzpatrick by captaining the All Blacks for the 51st time.
Patrick Tuipulotu will line up on the bench in place of injured team-mate Matt Todd as Codie Taylor prepares for his 50th Test appearance.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 24, 2019
“There’s no doubt that this is a huge game and there’s a lot of excitement around it,” Hansen said. “We know what we have to do and we’ve had a great week’s preparation. The team is exactly where we want to be, mentally and physically, ahead of the weekend.
“We’re really looking forward to this opportunity. It’s all about this game and the moments it will bring. In these moments, the word pressure is bandied around quite readily. However, that pressure is always there whenever you play quality opposition, regardless of who you are. It’s about how you handle that in the moment and not getting distracted by the past or the future.”
Hansen added: “Both teams have a common goal, which is to make the Final. However, we’ve arrived at this point with vastly different experiences from previous Rugby World Cups. No doubt, those experiences will resurface throughout the week and even in the game itself.
“Let’s hope the game lives up to the expectation that both teams will have and is one for the ages.”
New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, Kieran Read.
Replacements: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta’avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett.
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