All Blacks recall Dagg, axe Savea

All Blacks recall Dagg, axe Savea

Fullback Israel Dagg has been recalled and prolific try-scorer Julian Savea axed by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen for Saturday’s second Test against Wales in Wellington.

Omitted from last year’s World Cup due to injuries and fading form, Dagg’s 50th Test appearance will come almost a year after his last.

Back to his best for the Crusaders, he returns in a reshuffled backline as winger Savea is dropped amid continuing poor form.

Waisake Naholo moves from the right wing to Savea’s left, Ben Smith moves from fullback to wing and Dagg takes Smith’s place at the back.

In the only other change, lock Sam Whitelock returns from injury to displace Luke Romano.

New Zealand continued a 63-year, 27-match winning streak against Wales with last weekend’s 39-21 win at Eden Park, where they pulled clear with three tries in the last 18 minutes.

Savea scored one of the All Black’s five tries at Eden Park – his 39th try in 42 tests – but was replaced shortly after halftime. He has struggled to find form throughout a Super Rugby season with the Hurricanes and drops out of the All Blacks squad.

“There’s a lot happening with Jules (Savea) and we’re working away quietly,” said Hansen.

“We all know he hasn’t had a great season … taking him out of the pressure of having to play and continuing working on the areas we want him to work on we think he’ll benefit from that.

“We are expecting Wales to come out all guns blazing, particularly after what happened in the Chiefs game (on Tuesday) so we will have to not only meet that response but go to a higher level ourselves.”

Wales also announced two changes to its lineup and along similar lines to New Zealand’s overhaul with a fullback coming in for a winger and a change in the second row.

Cardiff flyhalf Rhys Patchell, who was a late addition to the touring squad, will start at fullback and Liam Williams, who played at No. 15 in the first Test, moves to the wing in place of the injured George North.

Luke Charteris, who led Wales in their 40-7 loss to the Chiefs on Tuesday, replaces Bradley Davies at lock and re-establishes his second row combination with Alun Wyn Jones, who played his 100th test in Auckland.

Head coach Warren Gatland hoped the match against the Chiefs would allow Wales’ second-string players to compete for Test places but none were impressive in a six tries to one defeat.

There are two further changes to the Welsh bench for the match, with Davies replacing Jake Ball and flyhalf Rhys Priestland taking the place of New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe.

“It is important we go out on Saturday with the confidence to play for 80 minutes in what will be another huge test match,” Gatland said. “We kept the ball and played well for periods of the first test and we need to convert that to the full 80.”


New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Ryan Crotty, Waisake Naholo, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody. Reserves: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ardie Savea, T.J. Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Seta Tamanivalu.

Wales: Rhys Patchell, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Hallam Amos, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Taulupe Faletau, Sam Warburton (captain), Ross Moriarty, Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Samson Lee, Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins. Reserves: Scott Baldwin, Rob Evans, Tomas Francis, Bradley Davies, Ellis Jenkins, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Scott Williams.

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