Blues star Tony Woodcock will make his 76th start at prop for the All Blacks (in his 84th Test) on Saturday, putting him third on the all-time world list of most Test match starts in the position.
Only England’s Jason Leonard (104) and Ireland’s John Hayes (100) have played more matches at prop than World Cup Winning Woodcock.
The starting All Blacks XV to face Ireland features just the one change with loose forward Adam Thomson replacing the injured Victor Vito at blindside flanker, while his place on the bench has been taken by new cap Sam Cane.
Ali Williams and Piri Weepu are once again named on the reserves list. Williams will play his 75th Test if he comes off the bench and will be just four Test appearances behind the most capped All Blacks lock of all time, Ian Jones
The All Blacks team to play Ireland at AMI Stadium (Addington) Christchurch, on Saturday 16 June is as follows:
1. Tony Woodcock (84)
2. Andrew Hore (63)
3. Owen Franks (32)
4. Brodie Retallick (1)
5. Samuel Whitelock (26)
6. Adam Thomson (25)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (104)
8. Kieran Read (37)
9. Aaron Smith (1)
10. Daniel Carter (86)
11. Julian Savea (1)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (15)
13. Conrad Smith (56)
14. Zac Guildford (9)
15. Israel Dagg (13)
16. Hikawera Elliot (3)
17. Ben Franks (16)
18. Ali Williams (74)
19. Sam Cane *
20. Piri Weepu (57)
21. Aaron Cruden (10)
22. Ben Smith (3)
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said, despite last week’s first Test win over the Irish, there had still been a lot for the All Blacks to work on this week.
“Once again, for us it’s about our preparation, getting clarity early in the week and building in intensity so we can have a performance we can all be proud of on Saturday.
“We (the coaches) are expecting further improvements in our game due to the extra training and preparation time we have had together, along with having a game under our belt.
“We are also expecting Ireland to improve, as they are a nation with a ‘never-say-die’ attitude so what we did last time won’t be good enough.”
Commenting on the All Blacks return to Christchurch, Hansen said: “It’s great that Test footy has returned to Christchurch and the players are looking forward to playing in front of a sell-out crowd.
“The team, especially those of us from Christchurch, know that people have still been doing it tough so hopefully we can give them a performance on Saturday that puts a smile on their faces.”