- Jerome Kaino replaces Kieran Read at Eden Park
- All Blacks name side with experience of 779 Test caps
Photo: Getty Images
New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has named Jerome Kaino in his starting line-up for the first Test against England at Eden Park on Saturday.
The Auckland Blues back row replaces IRB world player of the year Kieran Read, who has been forced to miss out after suffering concussion symptoms in the week, at No.8 and will win his 49th cap on his home ground.
Kaino is joined by 124-Test openside and captain Richie McCaw and blindside Liam Messam, who both played in the last meeting between the two sides at Twickenham Stadium last November.
Chiefs’ Aaron Cruden gets the nod to start at fly half ahead of in-form Hurricanes No.10 Beuden Barrett, with Hansen naming a side with the experience of 779 Test caps. Keven Mealamu, with 110 appearances himself, provides hooker cover for Dan Coles from the bench.
Photo: Getty Images
Highly-rated centre Malakai Fekitoa could make his debut as a replacement, with uncapped duo Patrick Tuipulotu and TJ Perenara also named on the bench.
Hansen said: "I would firstly like to congratulate Jerome on his return to the Test side and also the three uncapped players who have been selected in the 23.
"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."
New Zealand have lost just once since lifting the World Cup on home soil in 2011 and are gunning to extend their world-record streak of 14 straight victories.
"We will be looking, as always, to improve our game by increasing our accuracy and precision in all our tasks across the park," said Hansen.
"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 side to face England
New Zealand: Dagg, B Smith, C Smith, Nonu, Jane, Cruden, A Smith; Kaino, McCaw (c), Messam, Whitelock, Retallick, Franks, Coles, Woodcock.
Replacements: Mealamu, Crockett, Faumuina, Tuipulotu, Vito, Perenara, Barrett, Fekitoa.
New Zealand tour fixtures
(live on SkySports HD, all games 1935 NZST/0835 BST)
Saturday, June 7: First Test – Eden Park, Auckland
Saturday, June 14: Second Test – Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Tuesday, June 17: Crusaders – AMI (Addington) Stadium, Christchurch
Saturday, June 21: Third Test – Waikato Stadium, Hamilton