Wing Savea dropped by All Blacks for Wales test
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Winger Julian Savea has been dropped from the All Blacks team for their second test against Wales on Saturday after an indifferent season culminated in his substitution early in the second half of last week's 39-21 victory in Auckland.
Waisake Naholo will shift to the left wing, with fullback Ben Smith moving to right wing. Israel Dagg, who missed last year's World Cup squad has been recalled in the number 15 jersey.
The game at Wellington Regional Stadium will be both Dagg and Smith's 50th test match appearances.
"On behalf of the team, we would like to congratulate Bender (Ben Smith) and Izzy (Israel Dagg) on reaching their 50th tests," coach Steve Hansen said in a statement.
"It's a special achievement to play one test, so to get 50 is a wonderful milestone."
Sam Whitelock has recovered from a hamstring injury and joined Brodie Retallick at lock, with Luke Romano dropping out of the matchday 23 altogether after he started the first test.
The replacements bench is unchanged from the match at Eden Park, where the substitutes made a considerable impact as the All Blacks kicked away from Wales in the final quarter.
The prolific Savea had been under the most scrutiny after an enigmatic first test performance, having struggled with his form in Super Rugby this season with his Wellington Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd also dropping him for one game.
Hansen had already suggested there would be minimal changes for the second test, even though the team produced a rusty first test performance on Saturday.
"There is an expectation that we will need to improve right across the board, with better accuracy, in both our attack and defence, combined with more physicality and intensity," he said.
The All Blacks can seal the three-test series with a game to spare before the final match in Dunedin, though they face a Wales side smarting from a 40-7 defeat to an under-strength Waikato Chiefs team on Tuesday.
"We are expecting Wales to come out all guns blazing, particularly after what happened in the Chiefs game," Hansen said. "We will have to not only meet that response, but go to a higher level ourselves."
New Zealand: 15-Israel Dagg, 14-Ben Smith, 13-Malakai Fekitoa, 12-Ryan Crotty, 11-Waisake Naholo, 10-Aaron Cruden, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Kieran Read (captain), 7-Sam Cane, 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Dane Coles, 1-Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16-Nathan Harris, 17-Wyatt Crockett, 18-Charlie Faumuina, 19-Patrick Tuipulotu, 20-Ardie Savea, 21-TJ Perenara, 22-Beauden Barrett, 23-Seta Tamanivalu
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ian Chadband)