Disgraced Aaron Smith out as All Blacks make four changes for Springboks test
Veteran forwards Jerome Kaino and Sam Whitelock, winger Waisake Naholo and centre Matt Todd will feature in the Rugby Championship test in Durban
New Zealand have made four changes for their final Rugby Championship test against South Africa on Saturday, while retaining TJ Perenara at the expense of disgraced halfback Aaron Smith.
Coach Steve Hansen recalled veteran forwards Jerome Kaino and Sam Whitelock, boasting 152 caps between them, as the All Blacks seek to post 17 consecutive test wins.
But with the Rugby Championship already wrapped up, Hansen also continued to give younger players a run, replacing Ardie Savea with Matt Todd in the centres.
Giant winger Waisake Naholo, who pulled a hamstring in the opening match against Australia, returns to give Julian Savea a rest.
Watch: New Zealand coach Steve Hansen
Smith was widely expected to return against the Springboks in Durban, but was suspended over an airport toilet tryst with a mystery woman in Christchurch.
The decision means Perenara remains at halfback after taking part in last week’s win over Argentina, with Hansen expressing faith in Smith’s understudy.
“Obviously [Smith] is a world-class player and you want to be able to play him, but TJ has had three good stints there now,” he said.
New Zealand have an underwhelming record of three wins from eight tests against South Africa in Durban and Hansen said he expected a fierce Springboks’ performance.
“The inconvenient facts are they go well here so we’ll need to play well,” he said.
Watch: Jerome Kaino talks about his return from injury
New Zealand to play South Africa in Durban on Saturday:
Ben Smith; Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Waisake Naholo; Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, Jerome Kaino; Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick; Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody
Replacements: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, Tawera Kerr-barlow, Lima Sopoaga, George Moala
Watch: New Zealand v Argentina