WELLINGTON (AFP) – Inspirational skipper Richie McCaw returns to lead the All Blacks against Australia on Saturday, with New Zealand coach Steve Hansen selecting an experienced line-up to face the fired-up Wallabies.
Centre Ryan Crotty, named on the bench, was the only uncapped player in New Zealand's 23-man squad for the opening Rugby Championship Test in Sydney, with Hansen wary the Wallabies will spring an ambush under new coach Ewen McKenzie.
"With the changing of the guard in the Australian coaching group, it adds a little bit of the unexpected to the challenge," Hansen said. "Therefore, we need to be ready for anything they chuck at us."
McCaw returns from a sabbatical which saw him sit out most of this year's Super 15 season to claim his 117th Test cap, becoming the only player to have ever played Australia in 30 Tests.
Aaron Cruden replaces the injured Dan Carter at fly-half, while Aaron Smith slots in for dropped half-back Piri Weepu.
In the centres, Ma'a Nonu retains his place alongside Conrad Smith despite failing to find a berth with a Super 15 team next season.
Nonu was nursing an ankle problem earlier this week, so Crotty, who was only called into the training squad last Sunday after Frank Saili was injured, will provide cover from the bench.
Veteran Andrew Hore was named as the starting hooker, with Keven Mealamu warming the bench and Dane Coles not making the trip to Sydney.
Julian Savea replaces France-bound Rene Ranger on the wing, earning his 11th Test cap.
New Zealand 15-1
Israel Dagg; Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam; Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty