6 Jul 2017

Hansen clarifies Ioane and Naholo absence

12:34 pm on 6 July 2017

Illness rather than form is the reason behind Reiko Ioane and Waisake Naholo being left out of the All Blacks test lineup for the series decider against the British and Irish Lions in Auckland on Saturday night

The absence of Ioane and fellow winger Waisake Naholo were notable features of the side when it was announced this morning with no explanation from their exclusion.

Waisake Naholo leaves the field

Waisake Naholo leaves the field Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Naholo suffered a head knock in the second test loss and Hasen says while he was cleared to played the selectors and medical staff didn't want to risk it.

"Reiko wasn't considered because he's been sick all week and hasn't been able to train with us.

"Waisake while he's passed the concussion protocols doc and the selectors don't feel we should be risking a player so soon after concussion so we have given him another week to recover," said Hansen.

Israel Dagg has been shifted from fullback to the right wing.

They'll meet an unchanged Lions starting line-up and bench - with captain Sam Warburton again leading the 23 who won the second test - as coach Warren Gatland sticks to his winning formula. It's the first time since 1992 that the Lions have kept the same starting 23 for consecutive tests.

Waisake Naholo makes a break for the All Blacks.

Waisake Naholo makes a break for the All Blacks. Photo: PhotoSport

Jordie Barrett is thrown into a pressure-cooker role at fullback in what will be the 20 year old's first Test start.

Julian Savea, a more seasoned introduction on the left wing, has played no part in the series to date, after being usurped by the talented Ioane.

Ngani Laumape, starts at second five-eighth joining Barrett in playing just his second Test and making his maiden start.

Ngani Laumape

Ngani Laumape Photo: Photosport

Laumape had 55 minutes off the bench in last week's 24-21 second-Test loss in Wellington, introduced after Sonny Bill Williams was shown a red card which resulted in a subsequent four-week suspension.

There is no change to the starting pack or halves, while a lone new face on the bench is centre Malakai Fekitoa, cakked into the squad following injury to Ryan Crotty.

All three new starting faces are Hurricanes backs, and will operate outside that team's playmaker, first five-eighth Beauden Barrett.

Jordie Barrett

Jordie Barrett Photo: Photosport

Brothers Jordie, Beauden and lock reserve Scott Barrett match their New Zealand record- breaking scenario against Samoa last month, when all three were named in the 23.

Ioane's dropping is the biggest surprise, with the 20-year-old having utilised his speed to score twice in the 30-15 first Test win at Eden Park.

Savea, the scorer of 46 tries in 53 Tests, may need to provide support to Jordie Barrett, who can expect to be the target of the Lions' array of tactical kickers.

Elsewhere, captain Kieran Read will play his 100th Test in what is his 25th cap as skipper. He will be the seventh All Black to reach a century milestone.

Aaron Cruden and Charlie Faumuina will bring up 50 caps if used off the reserves bench. It could also be the last Test for the pair, who have signed French club contracts beginning later this year.

Coach Steve Hansen says the Test shapes as a "cracker".

"It's winner takes all and that'll create its own unique pressures. It's going to be interesting to see how both sides cope with it," he said.

The team:

All Blacks: Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (capt), Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.

Reserves: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.