Julian Savea returns, Cruden takes the bench as All Blacks look to experience in three team changes for world record attempt


Experience has been a major factor in the three changes made to the All Blacks' line up for their Test against the Wallabies in Auckland on Saturday where they will be attempting a record 18th consecutive win on the international stage.

Julian Savea, following a welcomed return to form during the Rugby Championship after a rough season with the Hurricanes and All Blacks this year, has been rewarded the number 11 jersey ahead of Waisake Naholo, who drops out of the matchday 23 all together.

The other two changes occur on the bench where Aaron Cruden comes in for Lima Sopoaga and Malakai Fekitoa replaces George Moala.

In a bold move sure to spur some debate Steve Hansen has stuck with Matt Todd at openside flanker to battle it out with likely-returning Wallabies veteran David Pocock, while Ardie Savea remains on the bench.

Double Olympic gold medal rower Mahe Drysdale spent the day in All Blacks camp hoping to give them an edge as they go for 18 consecutive Test wins against the Wallabies.
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Anton Lienert-Brown also retains his starting spot after two standout performances in the midfield with Ryan Crotty.

Augustine Pulu, who joined the side earlier this week after Aaron Smith voluntarily stood down for the Test following well-documented off-field issues, will return to play for Counties Manukau in the Mitre 10 Cup semi-finals this weekend.

The incoming Blues halfback is brought up to speed on all the moves he could be executing against the Wallabies on Eden Park.
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Naholo (Taranaki) and Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty), who is returning from a hamstring injury, will also be available for provincial rugby.

'Squad is feeling refreshed'

Hansen says the side have been warned against complacency heading into the Test despite recent form and historical statistics stacking heavily in the All Blacks' favour.

"The squad is feeling refreshed and raring to go after our return from South Africa, and we're all looking forward to what we know is a hugely-anticipated test match at Eden Park," he said.

"We've been focused in our preparation this week and there's a strong resolve within the group to put in another performance we can be proud of," the All Blacks coach said.

"Australia will be coming here with a lot more confidence than when we played earlier in the season.

"They've made some significant changes to their game and would like nothing better to end their Southern Hemisphere test season with a win.

"They've said they are keen to bring it on, and have outlined their intentions, so the stage is set for another huge trans-Tasman battle. It's a challenge we're really looking forward to."

The Wallabies have not beaten the All Blacks on New Zealand soil since their 23-15 Dunedin victory in the 2001 Tri Nations but the more looming issue the Australians will have on their minds is the coveted "fortress" of Eden Park.

The Wallabies have not won at the Auckland venue in 30 years.

Anton Lienert-Brown celebrates with the All Blacks team.
Buenos Aires (ARGENTINA), Oct. 1, 2016: Captain's Run before the International Test Match between Argentina v New Zealand during the Rugby Championship at Estadio Jose Amalfitani, on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Copyright photo: Pablo Gasparini / www.photosport.nz

Anton Lienert-Brown celebrates with the All Blacks team after TJ Perenara scores on the halftime buzzer against Argentina.

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All Blacks team to face Australia, Saturday 7:30pm, Eden Park

Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.

Reserves: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa.

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