Dane Coles returns to the All Blacks team after lengthy injury layoff
Last Updated: 23/08/17 7:20pm
Dane Coles will make his return to the All Blacks side in the Rugby Championship clash with Australia in Dunedin on Saturday after battling injury for much of the year.
The 30-year-old hooker has not played a Test match since last November and missed last week's 54-34 victory in Sydney after he sustained another head knock in a warm-up game.
Coles had played a total of just 90 minutes for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby since mid-March after sustaining knee and calf injuries before suffering concussion symptoms.
Codie Taylor, who filled the starting role in Coles' absence in playing all three tests against the British and Irish Lions and the Rugby Championship opener last week, drops to the bench.
Coles was one of only three personnel changes to the side that destroyed Australia last Saturday, with lock Scott Barrett coming on to the bench for Luke Romano.
Kane Hames has also replaced Wyatt Crockett among the replacements after Crockett appeared to be concussed following a heavy head knock in Sydney.
Coach Steve Hansen has kept faith with the backline that tore the Wallabies defensive line to shreds in the first 50 minutes last week by running up a 54-6 lead.
"Whilst we were very happy with the way we played for periods of the game in the first test, there were also moments where we weren't so crash hot," Hansen said in reference to the Wallabies scoring four unanswered tries in the final 30 minutes.
"We're well aware that we'll have to be better in all areas of our game, and we've concentrated on those areas we want to improve. Once again, a good start will be important."
Vice-captain Ben Smith has been named on the wing for his final appearance before he takes a sabbatical after the match in Dunedin until next year's Super Rugby tournament.
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith; 1 Joe Moody, 2 Dane Coles, 3 Owen Franks, 4 Brodie Retallick, 5 Sam Whitelock, 6 Liam Squire, 7 Sam Cane, 8 Kieran Read.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Kane Hames, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.