Three uncapped players are named on the New Zealand bench for the first test against England this Saturday. The exceptional Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa joins Hurricanes scrum-half TJ Perenara and Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu.
Jerome Kaino returns to the squad in place of the injured Kieran Read, while Cory Jane comes in on the wing for clubmate Julian Savea.
“We are really looking forward to this three-Test match series as it will allow us to immediately benchmark ourselves for the new season,” said Steve Hansen. “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. 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.
“We will be looking, as always, to improve our game by increasing our accuracy and precision in all our tasks across the park. There is a strong desire in the group to keep improving the quality of our performances from the level they have been at. We are fully aware that if we don’t, we are vulnerable to those teams that have the same mindset of improvement.
“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 team to play England:
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Cory Jane, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kickoff: 19:35 (local, 07:35 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)