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Lienert-Brown elevated to All Blacks XV

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/08/2016 Angelo Risso

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has called on rookie Anton Lienert-Brown to plug the hole in his midfield against Australia on Saturday.

The Chiefs young gun will make his Test debut at second-five in the second Bledisloe Cup match in Wellington, lining up alongside centre Malakai Fekitoa.

Lienert-Brown, 21, was called into the squad as cover following Sonny Bill Williams' Achilles tendon injury at the Rio Olympics.

However further injuries to incumbent No.12 Ryan Crotty, Blues gun George Moala and winger Waisake Naholo have compelled Hansen to give Lienert-Brown his chance.

The Christchurch-born midfielder has enjoyed a breakout Super Rugby season with the Chiefs, impressing in defence and helping his side reach the semi-finals.

"He had a very good Super season with strong performances throughout, and we expect him to take the step up," Hansen said.

The world champions were plagued by injuries in their 42-8 mauling of the Wallabies in the first Bledisloe encounter, losing Crotty, Naholo and hooker Codie Taylor.

Naholo has been replaced by Hurricanes winger Julian Savea in the starting XV, while Dane Coles will start from the first minute in place of Taylor.

The 29-year-old Coles was forced to play through the pain in Sydney, playing almost the full 80 minutes despite a rib complaint.

The inexperienced Seta Tamanivalu and James Parsons, both called into the All Blacks set-up this week, take their places on the bench.

Elsewhere, the team retains a similar feel to that which notched up a record win on Australian soil last week.

Coles is joined in the front row by the returning Joe Moody, who dislodges Wyatt Crockett from the No.1 shirt, and incumbent tighthead Owen Franks.

Brodie Retallick and Samuel Whitelock line up as locks, while the loose forward trio of Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane and captain Kieran Read remains intact.

The electric Beauden Barrett retains the No.10 shirt ahead of Aaron Cruden, and Aaron Smith will play at halfback.

Ben Smith will swap positions with Israel Dagg to play fullback, with Dagg moving to the right flank.

Hansen said his side had endeavoured to get its attitude spot on for the second Bledisloe and Rugby Championship match.

He said backing up from a big performance, such as the All Blacks' masterclass in Sydney, was one of the most difficult things to do in sport.

A win against the Wallabies will secure New Zealand's 14th consecutive Bledisloe Cup and put them in the driving seat to reclaim the Rugby Championship.

"As always, the expectation we have placed on ourselves is to improve in everything we do," Hansen said.

ALL BLACKS: Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Malakai Fekitoa, Anton Lienert-Brown, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (capt), Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Samuel Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody. Res: James Parsons, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Seta Tamanivalu.

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