(Photo: Getty Images)
By Adam Ellis
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has rung the changes to the squad to face France in Paris this Saturday.
Hansen has made 12 changes to the side which beat the Barbarians at Twickenham last weekend in a 33-21 encounter, installing number 8 Kieran Read back into the starting XV as captain.
Shifting things around in the back row sees Sam Cane also return into the first-team fold, while Vaea Fifita gets the nod to slot in on the blindside fresh from Steven Luatua giving the All Blacks a reminder of what they were missing after his move to Bristol.
After seeing the former Blues flanker turn in a star performance at Twickenham, Hansen commented “everyone got a taste of why we didn’t want him to go [to Bristol], he played well.”
Elsewhere in the pack, senior caps Dane Coles and Sam Whitelock will bring competitiveness to the lineout.
And main injury concern Reiko Ioane has managed to recover from a case of the mumps to start alongside Waisake Naholo and Damian McKenzie in the back three.
Speaking on his selection and his expectations ahead of locking horns with France, Hansen said: “This weekend is another opportunity for us to continue growing our standards, our game and our skill sets.
“If we can do that and put in a complete 80-minute game we’ll go a long way to putting in a performance we can all be proud of.
“Having said that, France are an exciting team and playing France in Paris is one of the biggest challenges in rugby.”