A rib injury to Sam Whitelock has opened the door for Hurricanes stalwart Jeremy Thrush to start this weekend against South Africa. The 29-year-old will run out for his seventh test but just his third start in a career which has been rewarded for hard work and perseverance. Thrush looked anything but a second-string All Black when he came on against Argentina in the 28-9 win at Napier last weekend and deservedly gets the start in front of his hometown fans.
Meanwhile, Chiefs first five-eighth Aaron Cruden comes back into the fray after injury with Hurricanes pivot Beauden Barrett moving back to the bench. Blues flanker Steven Luatua will start on the blind thanks to a Liam Messam injury last weekend. Talk of Richie McCaw starting on the blind and Sam Cane playing on the open didn't eventuate but may be a feature in the second half this weekend.
The match kicks off a 7.35pm at a sold out Westpac Stadium.
Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, Steven Luatua, Jeremy Thrush, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Joe Moody, Ben Franks, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Cory Jane.
Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Jan Serfontein, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Handre Pollard, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Marcell Coetzee, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Bismarck du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe, Lood de Jager, Warren Whiteley, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Damian de Allende.