All Black team named for this weekend
October 16, 2013, 19:18:47
ALL BLACKS: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Jeremy Thrush, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Wood[removed]. Reserves: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Tom Taylor.
Cory Jane's miraculous return is complete.
The mercurial Wellingtonian has been named to start on the right wing against Australia on Saturday on the back of just a game and half for his province.
Ten months after rupturing several ligaments in his right knee the 30-year-old will take his place for his 44th test against the Wallabies at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
And it will also be a big day for his Wellington teammate, lock Jeremy Thrush who has been given his first test start and a chance to push his claims for a spot on the end of year tour.
The selection of Keven Mealamu at hooker there are three personnel changes to the side that started the epic 38-27 win over South Africa at Ellis Park and one positional change with Ben Smith moving in a spot to centre.
Mealamu's selection sees Andrew Hore drop out of the squad, while Brodie Retallick moves a bench featuring utility back Tom Taylor in place of Charles Piutau.
Anyone other than Jane and coach Steve Hansen may have thought twice about rushing a player back from such a serious injury.
But he indicated his decision was helped by the necessity of moving Ben Smith to centre to fill the hole left by the absence of the sabbatical bound Conrad Smith.
"It's great to have Cory Jane back. He has been a world-class performer and we are looking forward to seeing him back in the black jersey," Hansen said. "It's also exciting to have Ben Smith getting his first start at centre for the season."
Jane had been in sparkling form for the All Blacks before a training injury ruled him out of Super Rugby this year.
His last test was against England at Twickenham last December, but he has had to sit back and watch Ben Smith make the No 14 jersey his own during the Rugby Championship.
Smith has scored five tries against the Wallabies alone this season, but will now get just his second start at centre in a new midfield combination with Ma'a Nonu.
Hansen has rightly resisted some pressure to give Beauden Barrett a start ahead of Aaaron Cruden at first five-eighth.
Thrush deservedly gets a chance to prove his worth after limited game time during the year. With Luke Romano coming back from injury and Steven Luatua an option to cover lock, Thrush will be keen to make a statement in order to book his trip north later this month.
Hansen said the changes to his side did signal the All Blacks were taking the Wallabies lightly.
"We respect the Australians immensely, but we understand that this match not only has the challenge of our opponent, but also one of the biggest challenge in sport, and that is backing up a great performance with another great performance.
"This is a challenge this team needs and will help define the progress we are making. If we don't attempt to improve our performance from our last outing, we are vulnerable to being overtaken."
Team: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Jeremy Thrush, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Wood[removed]. Reserves: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Tom Taylor.
- © Fairfax NZ News