Analysis: 'Massive calls' by All Blacks for Bledisloe decider - unprecedented or no surprise?

The axe Steve Hansen has taken to his All Blacks side in the wake of the disaster in Perth last week has split opinion among commentators.

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Kimberlee Downs is joined by Scotty Stevenson and Andrew Saville to break down a crucial week in the Rugby World Cup buildup. Source: 1 NEWS

With the Bledisloe Cup now on the line and the World Cup on the horizon, Hansen has cut veterans Owen Franks, Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane for Saturday's game at Eden Park.

Scotty Stevenson, talking on TVNZ's The Front Row today, said: "I think it's a wonderful opportunity for George Bridge and Sevu Reece to go out there and maybe find a spark that is missing from that All Blacks attack."

For Andrew Saville, however, it was a “massive call” to make such decisions with the Bledisloe in danger.

"To drop three of your dead certs five weeks out from a World Cup, I don't think I've ever seen this before - certainly from Steve Hansen."

Host Kimberlee Downs agreed it was “unprecedented” in the Hansen era.

But Stevenson argued the timing wasn't a countdown to disaster but a lift off and said: “I just don’t find this that surprising.”

He added: "We have been told consistently all year that the World Cup is the big thing - how does that not infect the very players in the team you’re talking about?

"They know it. Ben Smith knows he's got to get through 2019 and in September/October, he's got to be at his best. Rieko Ioane knows it. Owen Franks knows it."

Watch the full discussion on The Front Row above, or on 1 NEWS Facebook and YouTube pages. It is also available as a podcast in all the usual places.