Steve Hansen changes seven as All Blacks aim for historic victory

Last Updated: 22/11/13 3:40pm

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Aaron Cruden starts for the injured Daniel Carter

Aaron Cruden starts for the injured Daniel Carter

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New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has made seven changes to his line-up for Sunday's potentially historic clash with Ireland in Dublin.

The All Blacks are aiming to become the first international team in the professional era to complete a perfect season - 14 wins in 14 matches in 2013.

There are two changes to the back-line which started against England last week - Aaron Cruden replaces the injured Dan Carter at fly-half and winger Cory James comes in for Charles Piutau.

On the bench, the highly-rated Hurricanes scrum-half TJ Perenara could make his debut if he comes on.

Hansen has drafted in a completely new front row comprising Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, and Andrew Hore, who is expected to retire from international rugby after what will be his 83rd Test.

Prop Tony Woodcock is forced to miss the game because of injury.

Steven Luatua replaces Liam Messam as blindside flanker and lock Luke Romano steps in for Brodie Retallick.

Physical

Hansen said: "It's a reflection of the physical nature of the whole year really, particularly the last nine weeks. We've gone around the world twice - this will be our seventh Test in nine weeks.

"We've had a big, physical game against Argentina, another physical performance in Johannesburg, a lot of running and chasing in Dunedin, then France was physical and England was physical.

"It's just an accumulation of a lot of travel and game time. We've got the ability sitting there that is fresh so why not use them?"

On Perenara's inclusion he added: "He was reasonably excited. He just needs to contain that excitement and use it as a positive manner rather than being a bit like a demented moth around a lamp - don't get too energised and try to do everything at once.''

Ireland have not beaten the All Blacks in 27 attempts dating back to 1905, with their best result against the New Zealanders a 10-10 draw in 1973.

The most recent meeting was a 60-0 drubbing in Hamilton in June last year.

Such is the confidence among New Zealand's sporting public that the media is already debating whether a perfect season will make the current All Blacks the best in history.

The All Blacks side led by Wayne Shelford - that won all seven of their Tests in 1989 - was the last team to achieve the feat when rugby union was still an amateur sport.

New Zealand themselves came close to it again when they won 11 games and drew one under John Hart in 1997.

New Zealand: Dagg, Jane, Smith, Nonu, Savea, Cruden, Smith, Crockett, Hore, Faumuina, Romano, Whitelock, Luatua, McCaw, Read

Replacements: Coles, B Franks, O Franks, Retallick, Cane, Perenara, Barrett, Crotty

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