New Zealand team to face France at Eden Park is named
Last Updated: 05/06/13 9:44pm
Aaron Cruden: New Zealand fly-half in Dan Carter's absence
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has named Aaron Cruden at fly-half in his team to face France in the first Test at Eden Park on Saturday.
Cruden replaces Dan Carter who has been ruled out after cracking a bone in his hand last week, while scrum-half Piri Weepu (concussion) and veteran prop Tony Woodcock (hamstring) also miss out.
Aaron Smith will play in Weepu's number nine role and Wyatt Crockett steps in for Woodcock, with hooker Dane Coles making his first start in his fifth Test ahead of Keven Mealamu.
Prop Ben Afeaki and lock Jeremy Thrush, who are both among the replacements, are the only new caps in a match-day squad featuring 377 Test caps.
With Richie McCaw still taking a break, Hansen has installed Kieran Read as captain for the first meeting between New Zealand and France since the All Blacks won the World Cup final at the same venue in 2011.
"We all know how the French can play," said Hansen. "The only predictable thing about them is their unpredictability, so we will have to be ready for whatever they throw at us."
New Zealand: Israel Dagg; Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (capt), Sam Cane, Liam Messam; Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Ben Afeaki, Jeremy Thrush, Victor Vito, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Rene Ranger.
France: Yoann Huget; Adrien Plante, Florian Fritz, Wesley Fofana, Maxime Medard; Camille Lopez, Maxime Machenaud; Louis Picamoles, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Thierry Dusautoir (capt); Yoann Maestri, Sebastien Vahaamahina; Luc Ducalcon, Dimitri Szarzewski, Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: Guilhem Guirado, Vincent Debaty, Daniel Kotze, Akexandre Flanquart, Yannick Nyanga, Jean-Marc Doussain, Frederic Michalak, Maxime Mermoz.