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Naholo in, Dagg to fullback for All Blacks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/06/2017 Angelo Risso

Waisake Naholo will slot in on the All Blacks' right edge for Saturday's second Test against the British and Irish Lions, with Israel Dagg moving to fullback to replace the concussed Ben Smith.

Smith suffered his third concussion of 2017 in last week's 30-15 first-Test win, forcing a reshuffle in which Beauden Barrett ended up at fullback.

The All Blacks vice-captain and 62-cap stalwart will miss the Wellington clash as he continues to go through the relevant health checks, paving the way for the Crusaders-based Dagg to move into his preferred fullback role.

Naholo will then start on the right wing, having blown away the mid-week Lions side for the Highlanders in last fortnight's 23-22 triumph.

It'll be the Fijian-born flyer's 13th appearance in the black jumper, while the prodigious Rieko Ioane retains his first-Test role on the opposite edge.

Once again, there is no space for Julian Savea.

In the only other injury-enforced change, Anton Lienert-Brown is promoted to a starting Test berth at centre after Ryan Crotty's hamstring strain.

He'll join Sonny Bill Williams in the midfield, while Hurricanes bulldozer Ngani Laumape is set to make his All Blacks debut from the bench.

The Manawatu-born second-five played rugby league for the Warriors until 2015, when he switched to union and headed south to Wellington.

He'll now earn his first black jumper on home turf, having shown off all his trademark muscle in the Hurricanes' 31-31 draw with the Lions on Tuesday.

"Whilst it's disappointing to lose both Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty, it creates an opportunity for others," All Blacks boss Steve Hansen said.

"Israel is a world-class back three player, as is Anton in the midfield, and both Waisake and Ngani are coming into the Test side following outstanding performances against the Lions for their respective Super Rugby franchises."

Hansen said the side - which is otherwise unchanged - would need to stay on their toes in Wellington, as they prepare for a desperate opponent.

With a Test loss already against their name, the Lions will throw everything they have at the All Blacks to keep the three-Test series alive.

They have not won a series on Kiwi soil since 1971.

"The job is far from done - it's going to require us to take our game to a higher level. It's going to be very demanding, physically and mentally," Hansen said.

"In reality, last week's Test could've gone either way had they taken more of their chances. Our job will be to make sure that we shut down their counter-attack better than we did and, at the same time, win the critical moments."

ALL BLACKS: Israel Dagg, Waisake Naholo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (c), Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Samuel Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. RESERVES: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Ngani Laumape.

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