Scott Barrett replaces Sam Cane in All Blacks back-row for England clash

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Scott Barrett replaces Sam Cane in All Blacks back-row for England clash

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has sprung a surprise to his New Zealand side to play England in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final, as experienced openside Sam Cane has dropped down to the replacements.

In his place, Scott Barrett – ordinarily a second row – comes in to start on the blindside, with flanker Ardie Savea switching over to the No 7 shirt.

It is the first occasion in 25-year-old Barrett’s career that he will start in the No 6 jersey for New Zealand – though he has come off the bench to feature on the blindside before, including in the All Blacks’ 16-15 victory over England at Twickenham last November.
All Black openside Sam Cane drops to the replacements bench for Saturday’s semi-final with England

The alteration to the back-row is the only change to the All Blacks starting XV which beat Ireland 46-14 in the quarter-finals in Tokyo last Saturday.

Among the replacements, lock Patrick Tuipulotu replaces the injured Matt Todd in the only change to the 23.

In all, there are seven changes to the New Zealand side which narrowly beat England 11 months ago – Joe Moody, Nepo Laulala, Scott Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, George Bridge, Anton Lienert-Brown and Sevu Reece all included this time around.

Beauden Barrett remains at full-back, with Mo’unga operating at 10 again – Barrett has played the most matches against England (five) of the starters with a 100 per cent record in his career so far.

“There’s no doubt that this is a huge game and there’s a lot of excitement around it,” head coach Hansen said at Thursday’s press conference. “We know what we have to do and we’ve had a great week’s preparation.

“The team is exactly where we want to be, mentally and physically, ahead of the weekend.

New Zealand head coach Steven Hansen sidestepped any Eddie Jones claims at Thursday’s presser too

“We’re really looking forward to the great atmosphere that a Rugby World Cup semi-final brings and we know that there are many Kiwi fans who have travelled from home to support us.

“There are also many Japanese fans who will be at Yokohama cheering us on. We hope that we can put in a performance that will make them proud.”

Credit: Sky Sports

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