WELLINGTON (AFP) – The return of veteran Dan Carter and the injection of new blood headline a raft of changes to the All Blacks for the final Test against France on Saturday.
There are five changes to the run-on side and three new faces added to the reserves are expected to make their debuts off the bench at New Plymouth's Yarrow Stadium.
The All Blacks already have the series wrapped up after winning the first two tests 23-13 and 30-0 but coach Steve Hansen insisted he is not taking France lightly despite the experimental look to the third Test side.
"We certainly won't be underestimating the French in this final match," he said when naming the line-up on Thursday.
"We have put a full stop to last weekend's performance and (are) expecting further improvement from ourselves, and another hard, physical contest from the French.
"However, we are committed to continue building the depth in our squad and introducing new players to Test match rugby, hence why we have selected the team we have."
Backline general Carter returns to fly-half after recovering from the broken hand that sidelined him for the first two Tests to team up with the seasoned Piri Weepu at scrum-half.
They add 164 caps to the team, 127 more than Aaron Cruden and Aaron Smith, the starting halves in the first two Tests.
Rene Ranger, who has wreaked havoc off the bench so far in the series, gets a start on the wing in place of Julian Savea in the only other back-line change.
In the forwards, a calf injury to rising hooker Dane Coles has seen him replaced by Andrew Hore, with Keven Mealamu added to the bench, and Victor Vito gets his first start in the series, replacing Liam Messam
None of the replaced players gets a role on the bench which includes the untested Charles Piutau, Steven Luatua and Matt Todd.
Luatua, a bruising runner with the ball, will cover both lock and blindside flanker while Todd is likely to substitute openside flanker Sam Cane late in the game.
Barring injuries in the match, full-back Piutau is expected to make his debut in a back three reshuffle during the last quarter of the match.
New Zealand 15-1
Israel Dagg; Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Rene Ranger, Dan Carter, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Victor Vito, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Ben Franks, Steven Luatua, Matt Todd, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau.