New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen picks a strong side to face England
Last Updated: 05/06/14 10:50am
New Zealand: Jerome Kaino picked to face England.
New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has shown no mercy on England by picking a strong side for the first of three June Tests on Saturday.
Jerome Kaino replaces Kieran Read in the All Blacks starting line-up to face England in the first Test at Auckland's Eden Park.
Canterbury loose forward Read has been forced to sit out after suffering a relapse of concussion symptoms, paving the way for the Blues' Kaino to win his 49th cap in the back row alongside captain Richie McCaw.
Highly-rated centre Malakai Fekitoa could make his debut from the bench, with uncapped duo Patrick Tuipulotu and TJ Perenara also named as replacements.
Hansen said: "I would firstly like to congratulate Jerome on his return to the Test side and also the three uncapped players who have been selected in the 23.
"It is the first time in our long history that we are playing a three-match series against England and they are the perfect opponent for us at this time.
"We have a healthy respect for England and what they will bring to the contest.
"It is the first time in our long history that we are playing a three-match series against England and they are the perfect opponent for us at this time."
"Our preparation, though limited by time, has been very good. We have concentrated on getting real clarity of our roles earlier in the week and will be looking to build the intensity levels as we get closer to game time."
New Zealand have lost just once since lifting the World Cup on home soil in 2011 and are gunning to extend their world-record streak of 14 straight victories.
"We will be looking, as always, to improve our game by increasing our accuracy and precision in all our tasks across the park," said Hansen.
"We see this Test match as one which will be very physical with lots of ball movement that will challenge both sides aerobically and mentally."
New Zealand: 15 Dagg, 14 B Smith, 13 C Smith, 12 Nonu, 11 Jane, 10 Cruden, 9 A Smith; 1 Woodcock, 2 Coles, 3 Franks, 4 Retallick, 5 Whitelock, 6 Messam, 7 McCaw (c), 8 Kaino.
Replacements: 16 Mealamu, 17 Crockett, 18 Faumuina, 19 Tuipulotu, 20 Vito, 21 Perenara, 22 Barrett, 23 Fekitoa.