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New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has included three uncapped players in a powerful looking starting fifteen for the first test against Ireland this Saturday in Eden Park.
Wing Julian Savea, scrum-half Aaron Smith and lock Brodie Retallick all get their first start in the famous black jersey as New Zealand prepare to play their first competitive game since they beat France to take the World Cup final last October.
The All Blacks will be led, once again, by Richie McCaw who along with the likes of Dan Carter Isreal Dagg and Sonny Bill Williams have laid down the challenge to Declan Kidney and his Irish side.
Speaking at the team announcement, coach Steve Hansen said “We picked them (new caps) because they have all shown that they have special qualities which they now get the opportunity to show on the international stage.
“The build-up so far this week has been good. With such a short preparation time, we have focused on keeping things simple and bringing the team together.
“We have been concentrating on making sure we have clarity early in the week, increasing intensity and accuracy as the week goes on, which should allow us to put in a performance that we can be proud of on Saturday.”
A crowd of more than 40,000 is expected for the first of three Tests against Ireland, with the series continuing in Christchurch on 16 June and then Hamilton seven days later.
New Zealand XV v Ireland on Saturday, 9 June, kick-off 8.35am:
I Dagg; Z Guildford, C Smith, S B Williams, J Savea; D Carter, A Smith; T Woodcock, A Hore, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, V Vito, R McCaw (capt), K Read.
Replacements: H Elliott, B Franks, A Williams, A Thomson, P Weepu, A Cruden, B Smith.