In Summary
  • All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has called up the cavalry for Saturday's clash with a depleted France in Paris with Kieran Read returning to lead the strongest available New Zealand side.
  • The match-day 23 have 789 Tests worth of experience, with the All Blacks needing to score only three tries to become the first side to record 2,000 Test tries.
  • Only six players who started in the northern tour opener against the Barbarians last week have retained their places as the 107-Test Read heads a huge injection of experience to face Les Bleus.

PARIS

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has called up the cavalry for Saturday's clash with a depleted France in Paris with Kieran Read returning to lead the strongest available New Zealand side.

The match-day 23 have 789 Tests worth of experience, with the All Blacks needing to score only three tries to become the first side to record 2,000 Test tries.

Only six players who started in the northern tour opener against the Barbarians last week have retained their places as the 107-Test Read heads a huge injection of experience to face Les Bleus.

Hansen said he was leaving nothing to chance despite France seemingly in a state of chaos with multiple players injured, and a dismal record of only three wins from eight Tests this year.

France wing Yoann Huget has rated his side's chance of winning at 10 percent, but Hansen was taking no notice of such pessimism.

"France are an exciting team and playing France in Paris is one of the biggest challenges in rugby," he said when naming the side on Thursday.

Along with Read, Dane Coles (55 Tests), Sam Whitelock (93), Aaron Smith (68), Sonny Bill Williams (43), Ryan Crotty (32), Damian McKenzie (9), Rieko Ioane (10) and Sam Cane (50) return to the run-on side.

Cane made a second-half appearance off the bench when the All Blacks beat the Barbarians 31-22 while the other eight had the week off.

Vaea Fifita, who impressed against the Barbarians, retains his place on the side of the scrum with Liam Squire not considered because of illness and Jerome Kaino returning home injured.

Hansen said the 34-year-old Kaino's posterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in the Barbarians match came with a six-week recovery time.

"It's not the end of his Test career at this point. He's got to go home and do what everyone else does and play well in the Super season and then we'll start again," he said.

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