22 Aug 2013

Taylor gets the nod

11:14 am on 22 August 2013

Tom Taylor will make his test debut at first five ahead of Colin Slade when the All Blacks bid to seal the Bledisloe Cup for an 11th straight season against the Wallabies on Saturday.

The versatile Taylor, son of the 1987 World Cup-winning second five Warwick, slots into the pivotal role after Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett were all ruled out of the match with injury.

Coach Steve Hansen says Taylor's mature beyond his years, while it was his accurate goalkicking at around 90 percent - the best in the country - swung the selection call his way.

Hansen says Taylor should have no problems fitting in at first five, despite not having played there for the Crusaders this year, and he has the skills to play in the pivotal position.

However Taylor says he's played most of his rugby at No.10 and because he's been to a number of All Blacks camps, he knows the game plan.

For his part, Taylor's still slightly shocked at his sudden elevation - but the 24-year-old's happy to seize his chance to follow in the footsteps of his 1987 World Cup-winning father Warwick, and prove to himself and everyone else that he belongs at that level.

Slade - a 10-test All Black - comes onto the bench as cover, while lock Brodie Retallick replaces the injured Luke Romano in a starting forward pack that includes prop Tony Woodcock, who will earn his 100th cap and becomes the fourth All Blacks centurion.

Hooker Dane Coles comes back into the reserves, as does a fit-again prop Wyatt Crockett, while Jeremy Thrush comes will cover lock off the bench.

Charles Piutau has been brought in to replace Ryan Crotty as outside back cover, with Taylor and Ben Smith able to cover the midfield.

Wider squad players released this week to play in the ITM Cup if required are Counties Manukau's Frank Halai, Canterbury's Joe Moody and Wellington's Brad Shields.

NZ starting XV: 15-Israel Dagg, 14-Ben Smith, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma'a Nonu, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Tom Taylor, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Steven Luatua, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Andrew Hore, 1-Tony Woodcock

Reserves: 16. Dane Coles, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19. Jeremy Thrush, 20. Sam Cane, 21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22. Colin Slade, 23. Charles Piutau