New Zealand coach Steve Hansen on Thursday promised “a performance to be proud of” in their Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa as he announced just one change to his team.
Joe Moody comes in for loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett who suffered a groin strain in the All Blacks’ 62-13 quarter-final win over France.
“We’re ready to go,” Hansen said ahead of Saturday’s (Sunday 0200 AEDT) Twickenham clash.
The defending champions had prepared well during the week to “produce another game we can all be proud of” after demolishing France.
“Though we’ve met (South Africa) many times over the years, we’ve only played three times at the Rugby World Cup and these Cup finals matches are totally different,” Hansen said.
“They have a live-or-die nature to them and both teams will be desperate to advance.
“As a group, we’re really looking forward to this challenge.
“It will require a massive amount of intensity and composure and accurate skill execution. This team has high expectations of itself and enjoys the big occasions.”
Moody was called into the New Zealand side after Tony Woodcock was injured and put out of the tournament in their final pool game against Tonga.
This is the fewest changes the All Blacks have made to their starting line-up so far in the tournament and the smallest between successive World Cup matches since making no changes to the side who defeated Australia in the 2011 semi-finals and went on to beat France in the final.
Winger Julian Savea, who crossed for three of the All Blacks’ nine tries against France, has scored eight tries to equal the single tournament record held by South Africa’s Bryan Habana, who he faces on Saturday and All Blacks great Jonah Lomu.
The All Blacks’ matchday 23 has an average age of 28 and 1318 caps in experience.
Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.
Res: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Victor Vito, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams.