All Blacks mix new faces with old hands

21:38, Jun 06 2012
Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith
Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith discuss backline moves.
Hosea Gear
Hosea Gear during Monday's training at Onehunga High School
All Blacks scrum
The All Blacks engine room packs down scrums on Tuesday.
Richie McCaw
Captain Richie McCaw punts the ball during the All Blacks' Tuesday training.
Julian Savea
Wing Julian Savea holds the tackle pad for the Onehunga High girls team.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg teaches passing drills during the ABs surprise visit to Onehunga.
Israel Dagg
A Onehunga High girls 1st XV player steals a hug with Israel Dagg.
Hika Elliot
All Blacks hooker Hika Elliot was popular with the Onehunga girls.
Tony Woodcock
Prop Tony Woodcock holds the tackle pad on Monday.
Israel Dagg and Tamati Ellison
Tamati Ellison helps Israel Dagg off the ground at Fred Taylor Park.
Dan Carter
Dan Carter at All Blacks training on Tuesday.
Aussie McLean and Sam Cane
Assistant coach Aussie McLean chats with All Blacks newbie Sam Cane.
Richie McCaw and Conrad Smith
Captain Richie McCaw and his deputy Conrad Smith at the All Blacks' captain's run at Eden Park.
Dan Carter
Dan Carter gets in some long-range kick attempts at goal at Eden Park.
Victor Vito
Victor Vito flicks a ball over his head during the All Blacks' captain's run.
Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams waits by the players' entrance at Eden Park.
Tony Woodcock
Prop Tony Woodcock takes part in the All Blacks' captain's run.
All Blacks stretching
The All Blacks stretch before their final training walk-through.
SBW and Tamati Ellison
Sonny Bill Williams and Tamati Ellison signs autographs for fans at Pak n Save on Wainoni Rd in Christchurch ahead of the second test.
Sonny Bill Willliams
Sonny Bill Williams on the charge at a training session in Linwood as the All Blacks prepare for the second test in Christchurch.
Sonny Bill Willliams
Hosea Gear and Ma'a Nonu take time out at an All Blacks training session in Linwood ahead of the second test in Christchurch.
Sonny Bill Willliams
Tony Woodcock and Sam Whitelock practice scrummaging at an All Blacks training session in Linwood ahead of the second test in Christchurch.
All Blacks
Adam Thomson and Ben Franks share a laugh at All Blacks training in Christchurch.
Ireland
Ireland's Mike Ross and Sean Cronin doing some scrummaging during training in Auckland.
Ireland
Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll looks on at training.
Ireland
The Irish rugby squad continues training in Auckland after the first test.
Zac Guildford
Wing Zac Guildford leaps for a high ball during the captain's run.
Zac Guildford, Kieran Read and Sonny Bill Williams
Zac Guildford, Kieran Read and Sonny Bill Williams listen to instructions.
Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams passes the ball to a team-mate during the All Blacks' final run.
Dan Carter and Richie McCaw
Dan Carter and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw take part in kicking drills.
Richie McCaw and Piri Weepu
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and reserve halfback Piri Weepu.
All Blacks training
All Blacks train with the New Zealand Black Sticks in Hamilton. Owen Franks, Cathryn Finlayson and Piri Weepu play touch.
All Blacks training
All Blacks train with the New Zealand Black Sticks in Hamilton. Benjamin Tameifuna shows his dexterity.
All Blacks training
All Blacks train with the New Zealand Black Sticks in Hamilton. Ella Gunson shows Sonny Bill Williams hockey stick basics.
All Blacks training
All Blacks train with the New Zealand Black Sticks in Hamilton. Aaron Smith plays a warm up game with Sam Harrison.
All Blacks
All Blacks (from left) Zac Guildford, Tamati Ellison and Ma'a Nonu are welcomed onto the Melville High School marae.
All Blacks
All Blacks (from left) Ma'a Nonu and Zac Guildford perform the haka with Melville High School students during a visit to the school.
All Blacks
Aaron Cruden talks to the media.
All Blacks
Analyst Alistair Rogers (left) shares a joke with Sam Whitelock and Piri Weepu.
All Blacks
Victor Vito, Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams during the All Blacks rugby training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Victor Vito, Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams during the All Blacks rugby training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Sonny Bill Williams and Zach Guilford during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Zach Guilford jumps high against assistant coach Ian Foster during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Julian Savea jumps high against assistant coach Ian Foster during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Israel Dagg jumps high against assistant coach Ian Foster during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Julian Savea, Zach Guilford and Ma'a Nonu during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
All Black coach Steve Hansen, left, and Assistant Coach Ian Foster, right, during the All Blacks training session at Beetham Park.
All Blacks
Ben Tameifuna runs through drills with schoolboys following a training session in Hamilton.
All Blacks
Aaron Cruden runs through drills during a training session in Hamilton.
All Blacks
Sam Cane runs through drills during a training session in Hamilton.
All Blacks
Richie McCaw in action during a training session in Hamilton.
All Blacks
Sam Whitelock goes for a high ball during a training session in Hamilton.
All Blacks
Luke Romano goes for a high ball during a training session in Hamilton.
Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen
Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen talk at the All Blacks captain's run ahead of the third test.
Ma'a Nonu
Ma'a Nonu poses for a photo with some Hamilton fans.
Richie McCaw
Richie McCaw talks to media at the captain's run in Hamilton.

If Ireland were hoping Steve Hansen's reign as All Blacks coach would start with a vulnerable new-look side, they will be disappointed by the one named today.

Three rookies in wing Julian Savea, halfback Aaron Smith and lock Brodie Retallick will be pitched into action at Eden Park on Saturday.

But any nervous apprehension is more than offset by the vast experience that intelligently wraps around the new caps and further insurance on the bench.

Julian Savea
NEW BOY: Julian Savea will make his test debut for the All Blacks against Ireland.

This was clearly not a side knocked out at short notice.

Savea's first test start was inevitable after a season in which the 21-year-old phenomenon has barely put a foot wrong, but the right wing was less certain.

The selection of Zac Guildford in the No 14 jersey ahead of Ben Smith suggests the All Blacks do not intend to be dictated to by the tourists' kicking game.

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Guildford has had his troubles under the high ball before and there may have been thoughts of fielding Smith as a second fullback.

But then again, why would you not unleash two tryscoring wings with Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams in your backline? It is a positive statement.

The endless debate about halfback ends with Smith given the nod over Piri Weepu who takes his place on the bench with Ali Williams. The Blues duo is both out of form, but whatever your view, they provide 129 test caps between them if things go pear-shaped.

Similarly, Smith, the best passing halfback in recent history, plays between Kieran Read at No 8 and Carter at first five-eighth.

Williams' experience was not enough to deny the energy of young Chiefs lock Retallick, who adds energy and enthusiasm behind a grizzled front row.

Retallick will become the second youngest lock to wear the black jersey at just 21 years and nine days old, two days older than Mark Cooksley who made his debut in 1992.

It is the first glimpse of a player the All Blacks selectors will be hoping can fill the void created by the departure of Brad Thorn. It also hands the senior locking role to Sam Whitelock, a player whose recent form hints that he has accepted the challenge to step into that breach in past weeks.

In the other contentious area of selection, Victor Vito's physicality and athleticism in the lineout get the nod over Adam Thomson in what was probably a borderline call.

Keven Mealamu's calf is not quite ready for test match rugby with form rake Andrew Hore starting and late callup Hika Elliot named in the reserves.

There is also no place in the 22 for All Blacks veteran Ma'a Nonu after a disappointing Super Rugby season with the Blues.

In his 86th test Carter will achieve a statistical milestone in wearing the All Blacks No 10 jersey for the 71st time, surpassing Andrew Mehrtens.

Carter has also played tests at second five-eighth, but his recent form suggests he is far from done in his preferred spot and will be central to the reign of Hansen that looks, on paper, to be off to a promising and balanced start.

All Blacks: Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Julian Savea, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Victor Vito, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Hika Elliot, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Adam Thomson, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith.

Wellington