Matt Todd set for All Black run
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 this morning when assessing the approximate time he would be sending out some of the reserves - providing the game was going to plan.
With Sam Cane having well and truly cleared the lungs with 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 [Cane],'' 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 more out about this level was something Todd has been eagerly anticipating since he was brought in as injury cover for Sam Whitelock when the first All Blacks squad for 2013 was named.
While Whitelock's injured finger saw him turn out a week earlier than expected, Hansen and his selectors saw no sense in sending Todd back down south without giving him a small taste of test rugby, something that obviously delighted the player himself.
''It's a real buzz and I was stoked when I heard my name read out, it was a surprise,'' Todd said this morning.
Todd's inclusion will also stop the drums beating in Canterbury for his continued 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.''
The 25-year-old had been gathering as much information as he could get off Cane since the All Blacks first fronted France in Auckland, particularly around the tourists different style of attacking the breakdown.
''From watching them, and talking to our guys, they're obviously big boys who really put on emphasis on getting in there. 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 and getting to the breakdown was two-thirds of winning the the battle, according to Todd.
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 real 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.''