Matt Todd to get his big chance from bench
Expect Matt Todd to see plenty of action in the second half of Saturday's third test against France.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was straight to the point today when assessing the approximate time he would send out some of the reserves - provided the game was going to plan.
With Sam Cane having two 80-minute performances in the first two tests, the Crusaders No 7 will make his test debut in New Plymouth.
"It may well seem strange, but we've looked at Sam," Hansen said. "He's had a big workload against a really physical pack and he'll have a big workload after that.
"By bringing Matt on to the bench, it gives us an opportunity to give him a breather later in the game.
"And it's good for Matt. We'll find out a bit more about him at this level."
Finding out about this level is something Todd has been eagerly anticipating since being brought in as injury cover for lock Sam Whitelock when the first All Blacks squad for 2013 was named.
Whitelock had an injured finger but turned out a week earlier than expected, and Hansen saw no sense in sending Todd back down south without giving him a small taste of test rugby.
"It's a real buzz and I was stoked when I heard my name read out; it was a surprise," Todd said today.
His inclusion will stop the drums beating in Canterbury for his inclusion, for a short time at least.
"I'm sure there will be some happy people down there. As I've said, I'm stoked to be in the 23 and hopefully I can get on the paddock," Todd said.
The 25-year-old had been gathering as much information as he could get from Cane since the All Blacks first fronted France in Auckland, particularly on the tourists' style of attacking the breakdown.
"From watching them, and talking to our guys, they're obviously big boys who really put an emphasis on getting in there," Todd said.
"That's obviously a real focus of theirs and they have been effective in that area.
"They do put a massive emphasis on it, and the team in general has spoken about just how different it is from playing a New Zealand-type team. It's going to be a challenge."
Urgency in getting to the breakdown was two-thirds of winning the the battle, Todd said.
He said Hansen had not asked him to make any radical changes to his style of play; just on how important it was to stay strong over the ball, one of Todd's strengths.
"First and foremost I have to get my head around the game plan, because not being involved in the first two tests I have a lot to catch up on," he said.