New Zealand loses Kaino for Ireland test
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) New Zealand has regained two senior players but lost another to injury ahead of Saturday's rugby rematch against Ireland in Dublin.
Locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick will be reunited in the second row after recent absences through injury but seasoned flanker Jerome Kaino has been ruled out with a calf strain.
Whitelock and Retallick both missed the test in Chicago two weeks ago in which Ireland won 40-29: their first win over the All Blacks in 111 years. Retallick returned to the bench for last weekend's clash with Italy but Whitelock has not played in four weeks because of an ankle injury.
Kaino started at lock in Chicago in the absence of Retallick, Whitelock and Luke Romano.
Liam Squire will replace Kaino and New Zealand will otherwise be at full strength for Saturday's match in which it will attempt to reassert its status as the world's top team.
The All Blacks selectors have chosen Aaron Smith at scrumhalf despite being outplayed by his Ireland opposite Conor Murray in the shock loss. T.J. Perenara came off the bench to replace Smith and performed well, but the selectors have elected to show faith in Smith.
Beauden Barrett will start at flyhalf despite his own dip in form. Anton Lienert-Brown will combine with Malakai Fekitoa in a midfield in which New Zealand has been depleted by injuries, while Israel Dagg retained his spot at right wing despite speculation of a change.
''As expected, there is huge excitement and anticipation within our squad ahead of this weekend's test against the Irish,'' coach Steve Hansen said. ''While there was obvious disappointment at the loss in Chicago, disappointment doesn't win test matches. It's about having great preparation and attitude and delivering on the day.
''They'll be full of confidence and committed to delivering on their home patch so we will have to take a massive step up to get the performance we are looking for.''
New Zealand: Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Malakai Fekitoa, Anton Lienert-Brown, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Kane, Liam Squire, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.
Reserves: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, T.J. Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Waisake Naholo.