The All Blacks are banking on four uncapped players to step up in this weekend’s third and final test against France in Dunedin.
Centre Jack Goodhue and flanker Shannon Frizell will start on Saturday while first-rive Richie Mo’unga and lock Jackson Hemopo are on the bench as coach Steve Hansen rolled the dice with the series already wrapped up.
There are six starting changes and a positional switch from the team who failed to impress in a 26-13 second Test win in Wellington.
The midfield is revamped, with Goodhue replacing outside centre Anton Lienert- Brown while Sonny Bill Williams returns at inside centre for Ryan Crotty.
In other changes Ardie Savea starts at seven, Damian McKenzie replaces the injured Beauden Barrett at first five, Sonny Bill Williams is back at second five with Waisake Naholo on the wing and Ben Smith shifting to fullback.
The key feature is the selection of new All Blacks Frizell in the number six jersey and Hemopo on the bench.
The tight five is unchanged, with Sam Whitelock again named as captain.
Savea gets his fourth start in the number seven jersey, while Matt Todd will provide additional impact off the bench. Liam Coltman, who made his Test debut in 2016, comes in as the reserve hooker, while Karl Tu’inukuafe and Ofa Tuungafasi will again provide front row power from the bench.
In the backs, McKenzie gets his first Test start in the number 10 jersey outside halfback Aaron Smith. Goodhue, who played against the France XV on last year’s Northern Tour, will make his Test debut at centre, outside Sonny Bill Williams, who has made a remarkable return from injury. The back three have been reshuffled, with Waisake Naholo coming in on the right wing, Ben Smith at fullback and Rieko Ioane on the left wing.
TJ Perenara is reserve halfback, playmaker Richie Mo’unga, who also played the non-Test against the France XV last year, looks set to make his Test debut off the bench, while Jordie Barrett is the other back reserve.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “One of the aims of the Steinlager Series was to continue to build depth across our squad and give players opportunities. Now that we have secured the Dave Gallaher trophy and won the Series, we think this is the right time to do that. It’s an exciting mix of players with big-match experience, newer All Blacks who are continuing to grow their game, and four players who have been named in the Test 23 for the first time. On behalf of the All Blacks, I want to congratulate Shannon, Jackson, Jack and Richie, on their selection in the Test side.
“Our focus this week has been concentrating, firstly, on getting our individual processes done well, and then working on these collectively as a team. Another key focus has been our mental preparation, which needs to be bone deep and genuine.
“The French have proven to be a worthy opponent and very difficult to play, and we see this Test as another opportunity to improve our game.
“Once again we are looking forward to playing under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium in guaranteed good conditions.”
The matchday 23 is as follows (with Test caps in brackets).
1. Joe Moody (33)
2. Codie Taylor (31)
3. Owen Franks (97)
4. Samuel Whitelock (98) – captain
5. Scott Barrett (18)
6. Shannon Frizell
7. Ardie Savea (24)
8. Luke Whitelock (4)
9. Aaron Smith (73)
10. Damian McKenzie (14)
11. Rieko Ioane (15)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (46)
13. Jack Goodhue
14. Waisake Naholo (18)
15. Ben Smith (65)
16. Liam Coltman (1)
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (2)
18. Ofa Tuungafasi (16)
19. Jackson Hemopo
20. Matt Todd (13)
21. TJ Perenara (44)
22. Richie Mo’unga
23. Jordie Barrett (4)