5 Blues players in All Blacks team to face France

5 Blues players in All Blacks team to face France

Five Blues players have been named in the the All Blacks team to play France in the third and final Test of the Steinlager Series.
Piri Weepu and Rene Ranger are named in the starting XV, while Keven Mealamu is on the bench along with two debutants – Steven Luatua and Charles Piutau.
The team is as follows: (with Test caps in brackets. * denotes a new cap)

Starting XV:

1. Wyatt Crockett (13)
2. Andrew Hore (75)
3. Owen Franks (46)
4. Luke Romano (13)
5. Samuel Whitelock (40)
6. Victor Vito (21)
7. Sam Cane (6)
8. Kieran Read – captain (50)
9. Piri Weepu (70)
10. Daniel Carter (94)
11. Rene Ranger (5)
12. Ma’a Nonu (78)
13. Conrad Smith (68)
14. Ben Smith (14)
15. Israel Dagg (27)


16. Keven Mealamu (103)
17. Tony Woodcock (97)
18. Ben Franks (25)
19. Steven Luatua *
20. Matt Todd *
21. Tawera KerrñBarlow (3)
22. Beauden Barrett (7)
23. Charles Piutau *
The 23-man squad features five personnel changes ñ one due to injury – from that which played in last week’s 30-0 Series-winning Test against France in Christchurch.
In the backs, Piri Weepu gets a start at halfback with Tawera Kerr-Barlow coming onto the bench; a fit-again Daniel Carter comes in for Aaron Cruden who is getting a much-needed rest; and Rene Ranger gets his first start of the Steinlager Series after two cameos off the bench, with Charles Piutau coming into the match day 23 to cover the outside backs.
In the forwards, Victor Vito comes off the bench to get his first start in 2013 allowing Matt Todd an opportunity to come onto the bench. While the starting locks remain the same, Steven Luatua comes onto the bench to cover both lock and the number six position. Meanwhile, in the front row, Dane Coles has suffered a calf strain and was unavailable for selection. †He has been replaced in the starting XV by Andrew Hore with Keven Mealamu coming in as reserve hooker.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “While the Steinlager Series has been won, we certainly won’t be underestimating the French in this final match. We have put a full stop in last weekend’s performance and expecting further improvement from ourselves, and another hard, physical contest from the French.
“However, we are committed to continue building the depth in our squad and introducing new players to Test match rugby, hence why we have selected the team we have.”