Test Series

Hames to make New Zealand debut in Bledisloe Cup opener

Kane Hames is in line to make his debut for New Zealand after he was named among the replacements for the All Blacks' opening match of the Rugby Championship against Australia.

The Tasman and Chiefs prop is in the squad in place of the injured Joe Moody and will become the sixth New Zealand debutant of 2016 if he comes off the bench on Saturday.

Jerome Kaino - the most capped blindside flanker of all time - will play his 70th Test match on Saturday, with New Zealand's matchday 23 boasting 822 caps worth of experience.

Beauden Barrett will start at 10 after being preferred to Aaron Cruden.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said the Bledisloe Cup - a three-match series with Australia - is the most important trophy the team plays for after the Rugby World Cup.

"This week has been about getting our preparation and attitude dead right and, therefore, there's an expectation that this group will bring real intensity, physicality and a high level of skill execution come Saturday," Hansen said.

"We're all really excited about this first Investec Rugby Championship Test match. It's against one of our most respected rivals and the Championship itself is one of the best competitions in the world. It produces an exciting brand of rugby and world-class players, which both teams have.

"We're also playing for the Bledisloe Cup, which, after the Rugby World Cup, is probably the most important trophy we play for. Both teams will be desperate to get their hands on it which will create added pressure. It's about embracing that pressure and taking it on."

The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003, with a 3-0 series win over Wales in June their latest outing.


New Zealand XV in full: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Ryan Crotty, Waisake Naholo, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Wyatt Crockett, Nathan Harris, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (captain).

Replacements: Codie Taylor, Charlie Faumuina, Julian Savea, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Kane Hames.