Moody's Whirlwind Week Capped With Bench Spot

Publish Date
Friday, 16 October 2015, 7:07AM
Getty Images

Getty Images

Joe Moody has topped a whirlwind week by being rushed straight into the All Blacks team to play France in their World Cup quarter-final at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.

Canterbury and Crusaders prop Moody arrived in Swansea from New Zealand following two long-haul flights and a three-hour train journey four days ago after loosehead Tony Woodcock was ruled out of the tournament with a hamstring injury.

Moody, who has played eight tests for the All Blacks - all last year - has been named on the reserves bench ahead of veteran Ben Franks for the sudden-death match in Cardiff.

If 27-year-old Moody's call-up might raise an eyebrow, the rest of Steve Hansen's team is relatively straightforward. Not surprisingly, after their exit against the same team at the same stage four years ago, it is his strongest. The team has an average age of 28 and has amassed a total of 1295 test caps.

Skipper Richie McCaw returns to the No7 jersey after a thigh problem ruled him out of the Tonga pool match, and prop Charlie Faumuina returns to the bench following his hamstring issue.

Nehe Milner-Skudder has claimed the No14 jersey - his two-try performance against the Tongans in Newcastle enough to convince the selectors that he deserves the right wing spot over Waisake Naholo.

Lock Brodie Retallick and left wing Julian Savea predictably return to the starting line-up.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow has been named as halfback cover on the bench - a sign that he has overtaken TJ Perenara in the pecking order following some solid performances at this tournament.

Hansen has retained his gamble of not naming a lock on the reserves bench, with loose forwards Victor Vito and Sam Cane again named there, suggesting the All Blacks will look to lift the tempo in the final quarter of the game, and also pressure the French by attempting to out-run them to the breakdown.

France were extremely disappointing in this area in their final pool game against Ireland last weekend, but a heightened desire against their old World Cup foe is likely to close the gap on Sunday morning NZT.

"We're exactly where we want to be - playing a quarter-final at Millennium Stadium," Hansen said. "It's finals footy and we're hugely excited by that. We're a team that enjoys a challenge, we've had a great week's preparation and it's now about putting it out on the park.

"This team has always been about making its own history. We've known for a long time that this match-up may be a possibility and we're really looking forward to it. There are not many better places to play than a packed Millennium Stadium."

Hansen added: "All Blacks and French tests are always intense affairs and we expect this weekend to be no different. The French will be very physical and both teams have plenty to play for. We're at the time in the tournament where the big boys have to step up to the plate and the team that does this the best will move through to the next round. It's as simple as that. We can't wait."

All Blacks team to play France at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday:

15. Ben Smith
14. Nehe Milner-Skudder
13. Conrad Smith
12. Ma'a Nonu
11. Julian Savea
10. Dan Carter
9. Aaron Smith
8. Kieran Read
7. Richie McCaw (c)
6. Jerome Kaino
5. Sam Whitelock
4. Brodie Retallick
3. Owen Franks
2. Dane Coles
1. Wyatt Crockett

Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Joe Moody, Charlie Faumuina, Victor Vito, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams.

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