TOKYO (AFP) – Defending champions New Zealand have made one change to their side to play England in Saturday’s (Oct 26) World Cup semi-final, a match coach Steve Hansen hoped would be one “for the ages”.
Scott Barrett was named at blindside flanker on Friday to better combat England’s “kamikaze kids”, the sole change to the starting XV that beat Ireland 46-14 in last weekend’s quarter-final.
The flanker played the second half of that match and stood out, Sam Cane having started but replaced at half-time.
Cane moves to the bench in place of Matt Todd, who injured his shoulder against Ireland, while Barrett’s spot among the replacements was taken by lock Patrick Tuipulotu.
England’s back row of Billy Vunipola and the young flanker pairing of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill have been one of the outstanding units at this World Cup and will doubtless be a combative presence this weekend.
“There’s no doubt that this is a huge game and there’s a lot of excitement around it,” said Hansen.
“We know what we have to do and we’ve had a great week’s preparation. The team is exactly where we want to be, mentally and physically, ahead of the weekend.
“We’re really looking forward to this opportunity.” Hansen added: “Both teams have a common goal, which is to make the final.
“However, we’ve arrived at this point with vastly different experiences from previous Rugby World Cups. No doubt, those experiences will resurface throughout the week and even in the game itself.
“Let’s hope the game lives up to the expectation that both teams will have, and is one for the ages.”
New Zealand (15-1):
Beauden Barrett; Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, George Bridge; Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (capt), Ardie Savea, Scott Barrett; Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick; Nepo Laulala, Cody Taylor, Joe Moody Replacements: Dane Coles, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Angus Ta’avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett.
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