x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

New Zealand pick the best for France

Henry names strongest side with recalls for tight-head prop Neemia Tialata, blindside flanker Jerome Kaino and winger Cory Jane.

MARSEILLE // New Zealand have picked their strongest available side for Saturday's Test against France with recalls for Neemia Tialata, Jerome Kaino and Cory Jane. Tighthead prop Tialata replaces Owen Franks, blindside flanker Kaino takes over from Adam Thomson and wing Jane comes in for Zac Guildford in a side showing three changes from the team who defeated England 19-6 last weekend. "The French will be a passionate, physical side who are undefeated at home in their November Tests so it will be another huge test for the All Blacks. The team is looking forward to the challenge," the head coach Graham Henry said.

France, who defeated world champions South Africa on November 13 and Samoa last Saturday, will field 11 members of the team who beat New Zealand in Dunedin this year plus centres Yannick Jauzion and David Marty, lock Sebastien Chabal and No 8 Julien Bonnaire. The Marseille match will be a milestone for fullback Mils Muliaina who will win his 82nd cap and become the second most-capped All Black of all time behind former captain Sean Fitzpatrick, who made 92 appearances for New Zealand.

Richie McCaw, the flanker and captain, will play his 8Oth international to become the third most-capped All Black. "A game against France is always very important and very difficult. France are one of the great rugby nations," he said. "It will be an interesting physical challenge particularly after they defeated South Africa because they dominated the Springboks counting on their physical power as they did against us but we are prepared to face such a challenge," he added.

* Reuters