Retallick, Crockett lose race to recover from injury

Retallick, Crockett lose race to recover from injury
By Reuters

02/10/2014 at 12:05Updated 02/10/2014 at 13:26

Lock Brodie Retallick and loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett lost their race to be fit in time for the All Blacks' final Rugby Championship clash against South Africa on Saturday.

Retallick was suffering from concussion-like symptoms after coming off in the 34-13 victory over Argentina last week in La Plata, while Crockett received a bad cut under his eye that required stitches.

Jeremy Thrush has replaced Retallick with loose forward Steven Luatua providing cover from the bench, while Joe Moody will start his first test at Ellis Park.

Captain Richie McCaw will also set the record for All Blacks appearances with his 134th match for the world champions, surpassing the mark of 133 he shared with Colin Meads.

Hooker Dane Coles has also returned to the matchday 23 after he missed last week's match in Argentina following a dash home to attend the birth of his first child.

Veteran Keven Mealamu, who impressed with his performance last week against the Pumas, retains the starting role with rookie Nathan Harris dropping out of the squad.

Loose forward Liam Messam also returns to the bench after recovering from a quadriceps injury that he sustained in Napier against Argentina last month.

Messam's inclusion at the expense of openside flanker Sam Cane is undoubtedly to provide the All Blacks with a more physical loose forward mix in the final quarter.

Inside centre Ryan Crotty has also replaced Cory Jane on the bench after the Wellington winger suffered a hamstring strain, while scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow has been named on the bench for the first time this season.

New Zealand wrapped up their third successive Rugby Championship title with last week's bonus-point victory, though coach Steve Hansen said that was immaterial when it came to All Blacks and Springboks matches.

"Even though we have won the Rugby Championship, this is the game we always look forward to playing each year," the coach said.

"It's a massive challenge which will be spurred on by a huge amount of personal and team pride.

"This group has always believed that enhancing the legacy of the All Blacks is one of its overriding responsibilities, so we will be looking to put in another quality performance on the park.

"However, we know we will be up against a desperate and determined South African team who will be under a lot of pressure to win, which will make them a very dangerous and formidable opponent."

New Zealand: 15-Israel Dagg, 14-Ben Smith, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Malakai Fekitoa, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Jeremy Thrush, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Keven Mealamu, 1-Joe Moody.

Replacements: 16-Dane Coles, 17-Ben Franks, 18-Charlie Faumuina, 19-Steven Luatua, 20-Liam Messam, 21-Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22-Colin Slade, 23-Ryan Crotty