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All Blacks name strong XV as Hansen accuses Erasmus of pressuring referee

The Kiwis have gone for Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown in midfield.

ALL BLACKS BOSS Steve Hansen has accused South Africa of attempting to pressure referee Jerome Garces ahead of Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated Pool B opener between the Southern Hemisphere heavyweights.

Erasmus’ Springboks have pointedly asked for fair treatment from the match officials this week, insinuating that the All Blacks have had preferential treatment in the past due to their status as the number one team in the world.

japan-new-zealand-rugby Hansen in Tokyo this week. Source: Eugene Hoshiko

But Hansen, having named a very strong All Blacks 23 to face the Boks on Saturday [KO 10.45am Irish time], called Erasmus and co. out.

It’s pretty obvious what they’re trying to do,” said Hansen in Tokyo. “I’ve got a lot of respect for South Africa – and particularly for Rassie, I think he’s a great coach – but I don’t agree with what he’s doing, trying to put pressure on the referee externally.

“They [referees] are under enough pressure already, they don’t need us coaches doing what he’s doing. It doesn’t matter who your referee is.

“As a coach, you can always find things after the game they didn’t do and you can get emotional and think they are picking on you and not the opposition. At the end of the day, they go out and do the best they can do. It’s a big game, we just need to let the referee get on with it.”

Hansen’s starting XV for the Kiwis’ opener has many points of interest, with Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown starting in midfield, as Sonny Bill Williams provides back-up on the bench and Jack Goodhue misses out following a recent injury.

“Jack was ready to go, but we felt another wee bit of time wouldn’t do him any harm,” said Hansen.

As expected, the relatively inexperienced but in-form Sevu Reece and George Bridge start on the wings, with Rieko Ioane – who has scored 23 tries in 26 Tests – missing out on the squad altogether as Ben Smith takes the number 23 shirt.

“We talked a lot about what we were after on the wings – Ben could have played there, Jordie [Barrett], Rieko – so we’ve got quality players to pick from, but these two young fellas have put their hands up,” said Hansen.

england-v-new-zealand-quilter-international-twickenham-stadium Ioane misses out altogether. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

“Other guys are playing better than Rieko. Unfortunately, he’s hit a bit of flat patch and his job is now to wait for an opportunity. He was going to get one [in the final warm-up game] against Tonga but unfortunately had a calf niggle.”

Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett will continue their playmaking combination at numbers 10 and 15 in what promises to be an epic encounter in Yokohama.

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New Zealand (v South Africa):

15. Beauden Barrett
14. Sevu Reece
13. Anton Lienert-Brown
12. Ryan Crotty
11. George Bridge
10. Richie Mo’unga
9. Aaron Smith

1. Joe Moody
2. Dane Coles
3. Nepo Laulala
4. Sam Whitelock
5. Scott Barrett
6. Ardie Savea
7. Sam Cane
8. Kieran Read (captain)


16. Codie Taylor
17. Ofa Tuungafasa
18. Angus Ta’avao
19. Patrick Tuipulotu
20. Shannon Frizell
21. TJ Perenara
22. Sonny Bill Williams
23. Ben Smith

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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