Carter gets his ton
Thu, 14 Nov 2013 06:22
All Black coach Steve Hansen made just one change to his starting line-up for Saturday's revenge mission against England.
As expected, star flyhalf Dan Carter will pick up his 100th Test cap, as New Zealand aim to make amends for a shock loss to England last year - Hansen's only defeat since taking the reins in 2011.
Carter will become the fifth New Zealand player to attain 100 Test caps.
The 31-year-old Carter, the world's leading Test points scorer, follows captain Richie McCaw, former fullback Mils Muliaina, hooker Keven Mealamu and prop Tony Woodcock in reaching the milestone.
Carter's march to the mark, however, has slowed over the last two seasons after he suffered a groin injury during the 2011 World Cup which the All Blacks won on home turf.
He has appeared in just five of New Zealand's 12 Tests so far this season after breaking his hand, suffering a calf injury then being crunched by South Africa hooker Bismark du Plessis at Eden Park in September that caused a shoulder injury.
Carter's absence has allowed Aaron Cruden to develop into a world-class flyhalf and with Beauden Barrett also starting to capitalise on his few opportunities in the position, the veteran's selection for Saturday was by no means assured.
Meanwhile Hansen recalled wing Julian Savea in the only change for what he predicts will be a torrid encounter.
Savea missed last week's 26-19 win over France in Paris because of flu, but has recovered to replace Cory Jane - with in-form youngster Charles Piutau taking the other wing spot.
The only other change is the introduction of lock Luke Romano on the bench to beef up New Zealand's second row options, at the expense of flank Sam Cane.
Victory would maintain a 100 percent record this season, giving them a shot at becoming the only All Blacks team to go through a season winning every match.
It would also make amends for the 38-21 loss to England at the same venue last year.
Hansen has played down talk of retribution in the lead-up to the Test and suggested the world champions and top-ranked team had to prove they were "competitive" against England.
"We were completely outplayed by them last year but this is an opportunity for us to see if we have improved our game to the point where we can be competitive," he said.
"This is a Test match we are very much looking forward to.
"The players are excited because this is what Test rugby is all about."
However, he was more forthcoming about what the match means to his team in remarks to New Zealand media.
"They've got a self-belief because of last year and we've got a desire that's pretty high because of last year... it will be genuine and it will be bone-deep," he said.
"Then it comes down to delivering on the day and how you can cope with it.
"We know the England coaching staff have done a lot of homework so this may be a game where we add a few new things they haven't seen before.
"We are expecting a really physical game with huge intensity, but also a game that will have high levels of energy, pace and skills."
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements; 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Steven Luatua, 21 Tawera Kerr Barlow, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Date: Saturday, November 16
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT; 03.30, Sunday, November 17 NZ time)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
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