6 Aug 2015

Milner-Skudder to make All Blacks debut

8:32 am on 6 August 2015

The Hurricanes wing Nehe Milner-Skudder will make his All Blacks debut in Saturday's Rugby Championship decider against the Wallabies, while captain Richie McCaw is set to equal Brian O'Driscoll's world record of 141 test caps.

The Hurricanes wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, who will make his All Blacks debut this weekend.

The Hurricanes wing Nehe Milner-Skudder will make his All Blacks debut this weekend. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

After a scintillating Super Rugby season with runners-up the Hurricanes, Milner-Skudder had been named in an extended All Blacks squad as coach Steve Hansen looked at his options before the World Cup.

The 24-year-old, who missed the previous two Rugby Championship matches due to a rib injury, will start on the right wing for the Sydney game, while his Hurricanes team mate Julian Savea makes his first start of the All Blacks' season on the left.

Sonny Bill Williams will replace the injured Ma'a Nonu at second-five, while Daniel Carter returns at first-five after he and Williams missed the All Blacks' 27-20 victory over South Africa in Johannesburg.

Ben Smith also moves back to his preferred fullback spot after Israel Dagg played the three previous tests following an injury-plagued Super Rugby season.

McCaw, 34, will make his 141st test appearance to equal the record set by former Ireland and Lions captain O'Driscoll in a game that also doubles as the first match of this season's Bledisloe Cup.

"The Bledisloe Cup is an important trophy for New Zealand rugby and for this team, and Australia is one of our oldest opponents," Hansen said.

"We are well aware that they have made improvements and that their coach (Michael) Cheika wants them to be more physical and more consistent."

"Having said that, we are always looking to improve our game and understand that we will have to take a step up from our Ellis Park performance."

Loose forward Sam Cane, who was given time off to rest after a heavy workload in Super Rugby, also makes his first appearance for the side from the bench.

He is likely to be brought on in the second half to counter the expected dual openside flanker threat from the Wallabies of David Pocock and Michael Hooper.

Team: 15-Ben Smith, 14-Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Daniel Carter, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Luke Romano, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Dane Coles, 1-Tony Woodcock

Replacements: 16-Codie Taylor, 17-Ben Franks, 18-Nepo Laulala, 19-Sam Whitelock, 20-Sam Cane, 21-TJ Perenara, 22-Beauden Barrett, 23-Malakai Fekitoa.

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