Dunedin – The All Blacks dismissed the idea on Thursday of
spicing up the dead-rubber third Test against France by putting the already won
Dave Gallaher Trophy back on the line.
The series has been wrapped up after New Zealand won the
first two Tests and locked away the trophy, contested between the two nations,
for the 12th time in 14 series.
But when it was put to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen that it
would make Saturday’s final Test more interesting to have the silverware at
stake, he was not interested.
“There’s no point giving someone else a break. We’ve
got it so we keep it,” he said, while adding that the rules for contesting
the trophy were not his to make.
The All Blacks are using the Test to blood four new players
– centre Jack Goodhue and flank Shannon Frizell in the run-on side, with flyhalf
Richie Mo’unga and lock Jackson Hemopo coming off the bench.
France have dropped captain Mathieu Bastareaud and with his
partner in the first two Tests, Geoffrey Doumayrou, out with a twisted ankle,
Clermont centres Wesley Fofana and Remi Lamerat come in.
France are hoping their speed in the roofed Dunedin Stadium
will bring a change of luck after controversial refereeing decisions went
against Les Bleus in the first two Tests.
They led 11-8 in the first Test until a disputed yellow card
gave the All Blacks breathing space to launch an unanswered 44-point spree on
their way to a 52-11 victory.
The second Test was marred by France fullback Benjamin Fall
being incorrectly sent off in the 12th minute.
It was not until a disciplinary hearing after the All Blacks
won 26-13 that the mistake was acknowledged and the red card erased.
But Hansen argued it was “pointless” raising
issues that could not be changed, recalling the final moments of last year’s
third Test against the British and Irish Lions when New Zealand were denied a
penalty that probably cost them a series win.
“You make the comment the French feel they’ve been hard
done by. You can talk about any series and say that. That’s the way rugby
is,” he said.
“Go back 12 months and I can sit here and squeal about
that too, but it’s pointless isn’t it?”
Devoid of a trophy or series outcome in Dunedin, the focus
is on the centres where both sides will have new pairings. Hansen believes the
tourists want to up the tempo as they seek their first win against the All
Blacks since 2009.
“They’ve obviously got a plan there. The two guys
they’ve put in the midfield aren’t bad, they’re world-class players. They’re
blessed with a bit of depth in that area and they’ll be quicker,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say they’re better rugby players but they
play a different type of game than what he (Bastareaud) does which will
probably indicate they want to run the ball.”
The All Blacks midfield sees the return of Sonny Bill
Williams from injury and a debut for Goodhue, with Hansen working on
combinations 15 months out from the World Cup.
“One’s got experience and the other one’s brand new so
it will be interesting to see how they go together,” he said.
“They’re both big men, both fast men and good
distributers. Jack Goodhue’s probably as good as you’ll get at putting someone
15 Benjamin Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock (captain), 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Jordie Barrett
15 Ben Fall, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Remi Lamerat, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Gael Fickou, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Morgan Parra (captain), 8 Kevin Gourdon, 7 Kelian Galletier, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Dany Priso
Substitutes: 16 Adrien Pelissie, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Felix Lambey, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 Maxime Medard