Belfast Telegraph

Hansen wants the All Blacks to raise bar after changes

 

By Jack de Menezes

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has been forced into making two changes to his starting line-up for the second Test against the British and Irish Lions after both Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty were ruled out with injury, with both Anton Lienert-Brown and Waisake Naholo coming into the side.

Smith's absence through the concussion that he suffered in the 30-15 first Test victory means that Israel Dagg moves from wing to full-back, allowing room for Highlanders back Naholo to come into the side.

The 26-year-old Naholo, who scored against the Lions in the Highlanders' victory earlier this month, is in line to win his 13th cap for the All Blacks, having notched six tries along the way.

Lienert-Brown, meanwhile, was unlucky to miss out on the first Test starting line-up and came off the bench when Crotty injured his hamstring, and his promotion from the bench allows Ngani Laumape, the Hurricanes centre who scored against the Lions in Tuesday's 31-31 draw in Wellington, to be included for the first time.

"While it's disappointing to lose both Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty, it creates an opportunity for others," said All Blacks head coach Hansen.

"Izzy (Israel Dagg) is a world-class back three player, as is Anton in the midfield, and both Waisake and Ngani are coming into the Test side following outstanding performances against the Lions for their respective Super franchises.

"While we were happy with the win last weekend, we know that it was just a start, in what is a three-Test series. That means the job is far from done.

"It's going to require us to take our game to a higher level. It's going to be very demanding, physically and mentally, on both sides.

"In reality, last week's Test could've gone either way had they taken more of their chances. Our job will be to make sure that we shut down their counter-attack better than we did last weekend and at the same time, win the critical moments across the 80 minutes."

New Zealand team to play the British and Irish Lions in the second Test in Wellington on Saturday: I Dagg; W Naholo, A Lienert-Brown, S B Williams, R Ioane; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, C Taylor, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, S Cane, K Read (capt).

Replacements: N Harris, W Crockett, C Faumuina, S Barrett, A Savea, TJ Perenara, A Crruden, N Laumape.

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