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Different players, same scrutiny for ABs

NZN 10/11/2016 Angelo Risso

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has completely revamped his side for Saturday's Test against Italy but expects his wares to produce the same high standards.

More than three quarters of the side that ran out in last week's loss to Ireland will sit out the Rome clash, with only lock Patrick Tuipulotu, winger Waisake Naholo and flanker Sam Cane retained.

Yet Hansen, who will look to the game as a chance to test out several fringe All Blacks on the big stage, nevertheless said he wants a better performance than that seen in Chicago.

"We've always had this plan to pick this side for Italy, this is the team we thought would be right for Italy and nothing that happened in Chicago has changed that," Hansen said.

"Whilst it's not the same people playing, it's the same jersey and same expectations, so this group has to go out and get back to the rugby we want to play."

Livewire Rieko Ioane and hooker Liam Coltman are likely to make their Test debuts off the bench, while the front row, half-back pairing and midfield duo have all been switched up.

The entrants to the squad include last week's four Maori All Blacks ring-ins, with Ioane, fullback Damian McKenzie, loosie Elliot Dixon and halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow all in the mix.

Kerr-Barlow will line up at No.9 alongside Chiefs teammate Aaron Cruden, while young guns Anton Lienert-Brown and Malakai Fekitoa will make up the midfield.

Cane, 24, will captain the side in the absence of incumbent Kieran Read and is joined in the loose forward trio by Dixon and Blues gun Steven Luatua.

Hansen said the Chiefs co-captain, leading the side for just the second time, would need to radiate calm amongst a green squad.

"The expectation is that he'll play well, calm and assured under the pressure of the game and making sure the people around him are responding," Hansen said.

"But he's learning as a leader so it won't be perfect and we don't expect it to be."

In the tight five, Tuipulotu will be paired with the young Scott Barrett, making his first Test start, while Wyatt Crockett, Codie Taylor and Charlie Faumuina make up the front row.

Hansen said he expected the five to come under considerable pressure from the Italians at the set-piece after the side struggled at lineout time against Ireland.

Despite the distance, he'd watched plenty of Italian rugby on the television and during his stint coaching Wales in the early 2000s.

"They have a big, strong forward pack and some really exciting backs, (and) they'll look to drive their maul and be as disruptive as possible," Hansen said.

"They'll kick the ball a bit and blitz us on defence."

ALL BLACKS: Damian McKenzie, Israel Dagg, Malakai Fekitoa, Anton Lienert-Brown, Waisake Naholo, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Steven Luatua, Sam Cane (c), Elliot Dixon, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Charlie Faumuina, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett. RESERVES: Liam Coltman, Joe Moody, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Matt Todd, Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Rieko Ioane.

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