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Todd holds ABs fort with Cane crocked

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/11/2016 Angelo Risso
Matt Todd of the All Blacks during a New Zealand All Blacks training session © Phil Walter/Getty Images Matt Todd of the All Blacks during a New Zealand All Blacks training session

History has repeated itself in camp All Blacks, with openside Sam Cane's injury woes once again opening the door for Matt Todd.

The 28-year-old Crusaders stalwart has found minutes hard to come by in the black jumper, with ex-skipper Richie McCaw and now Cane considered automatic Test starters.

Hurricanes livewire Ardie Savea, meanwhile, is the preferred option for coach Steve Hansen off the bench with his high-intensity style and carrying ability.

But with Cane crocked for the back end of this year's Rugby Championship, Hansen elected to go with Todd in the No.7 jumper, and retain Savea as a late-game chaos merchant.

The move paid off, with Todd impressing from the first minute and winning turnovers aplenty in wins over South Africa and, in the record-clinching third Bledisloe, Australia.

It's a trick that has been repeated for Saturday's season-ending Test against France, with Cane again felled by injury, this time to the ankle.

The Paris tussle will mark Todd's second appearance of the northern tour, after coming off the bench in his side's thumping 68-10 win over Italy.

"You just try playing to your strengths and doing the job the team requires of you, everyone does it slightly differently," the seven-cap Todd said.

"It's a high-attrition position so it's good to have extra players."

Opposing the 104kg Todd on Saturday are likely to be titanic French loosies Charles Ollivon, Kevin Gourdon and Louis Picamoles, none of whom are traditional opensides.

If re-selected, the trio may give Todd the opportunity to again wreak havoc at the breakdown.

On the flip side, however, Todd warned his side would have to be on red alert for Les Bleus' famed offload game and unpredictability.

The Canterbury native said he'd look to bring a little zip to the All Blacks' play after watching their bruising Dublin encounter from the stands.

"I'm just trying to bring that energy and enthusiasm, especially early in the week, there was certainly some sore bodies but the week's been managed really well," Todd said.

"Support play, defensive work, stuff like that, I try for a high work-rate, so I just stay busy and involved in the game."

Todd also said the world champions would have to give away fewer penalties at the Stade de France, having conceded 14 last week against Ireland.

Among those penalties included two yellow cards to Aaron Smith and Malakai Fekitoa, the latter of whom will sit out Saturday's Test with a one-match ban for high tackling.

"Sometimes tackles go wrong but we're always trying to be as accurate as we can," Todd said.

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