Hansen fields best for Wembley
New Zealand have named the most experienced starting XV in Test history for the opening match of their World Cup defence against Argentina at Wembley Stadium tomorrow.
The All Blacks will field 1,013 caps, breaking the 1,000 mark for the first time, to eclipse their own milestone of 966, which they set in August for the 41-13 Bledisloe Cup triumph over Australia.
Captain Richie McCaw extends his own record to a 143rd international appearance and, alongside fly-half Dan Carter, will be appearing in a fourth World Cup, a first for a player from New Zealand.
No 8 Kieran Read, scrumhalf Aaron Smith, wing Julian Savea and centre Ma’a Nonu are all present in an all-star All Blacks side.
“We’ve selected what we believe is a very strong team,” head coach Steve Hansen said. “We have the utmost respect for Argentina who we know a lot more because of their involvement in the Rugby Championship. .
“We will need to be at our very best to get our tournament away to a good start. We’ve had a great prepara- tion and there will be no excuses for not performing.” Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade sees a weakeness in the New Zealand maul.
The Pumas upset the All Blacks with their rolling maul when the two sides met in the recent Rugby Championship and Hourcade said: “The maul is one of the many options we have and we are trying to develop to hurt the All Blacks.”
Hansen branded the lethal rolling maul as “bloody boring” and called for a law change so it could be legally collapsed after Argentina scored two tries in quick succession in the July Test from line-out drives that the All Blacks were powerless to stop.
The tries were never going to change the outcome as the All Blacks coasted to a 39-18 victory in Christchurch. But they did expose a chink in the All Blacks’ armour.