The challenge is about us being better than we were before
The selection of Luke Romano will certainly raise some eyebrows, but it is the monster midfield that could steal the show when New Zealand face Australia on Saturday.
The All Blacks and Wallabies go head-to-head in the opening match of the inaugural Rugby Championship in Sydney on Saturday, and Kiwi coach Steve Hansen named a powerful team for the encounter.
In the most notable selection Crusaders second row forward Luke Romano edged Brodie Retallick at lock in the starting XV.
Romano has recovered from the shoulder injury that ruled him out of last month's Super semifinal against the Chiefs and been named to start alongside fellow Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock against the Wallabies in Sydney.
Liam Messam has also earned the trust of coach Steve Hansen by usurping Adam Thomson and Victor Vito in the scramble for the blindside flanker jersey.
The front row features the most capped All Black prop and hooker of all time in Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu, alongside Owen Franks,.
In the loose forwards Messam is partnered by All Black captain Richie McCaw - back at openside after playing No.8 in his last All Blacks outing - with Kieran Read returning to the No.8 jersey.
In the backs Ma'a Nonu comes in for the injured Conrad Smith at outside centre, with Sonny Bill Williams at No.12 - arguably the most powerful and skilled midfield combination in the game.
Scrumhalf Aaron Smith combines with returning flyhalf Daniel Carter.
Cory Jane returns to the right wing, Hosea Gear is on the left and Israel Dagg is fullback.
All Black coach Steve Hansen said Saturday's Bledisloe Cup contest brings two challenges.
"The first is our opponents, who we clearly respect," the coach said, adding: "But just as important is the second challenge, which is about us being better than we were before.
"The expectation this All Blacks team has, is that it will strive to achieve these goals, both individually and collectively as a team."
A squad of 24 will travel to Sydney on Thursday for Saturday's Test match, with Charlie Faumuina and Adam Thomson travelling with the matchday 22.
All Blacks squad members Wyatt Crockett, Tamati Ellison, Sam Cane and Julian Savea will remain in New Zealand.
The All Blacks return to Auckland on Sunday to prepare for the return Bledisloe Cup match at Eden Park next Saturday, August 25.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith.
Date: Saturday, August 18
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 20.00 (10.00 GMT)
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)