Joe Rokocoko’s selection confirms the All Blacks’ intent to play an expansive game in Bloemfontein.
Graham Henry’s side were conservative against the Wallabies in Auckland, basing their game around flyhalf Stephen Donald and rarely sending the ball wide. Cory Jane, who played right wing that day, barely touched the ball and was used mainly to chase ball that was kicked upfield.
However, with sunny, dry conditions expected for Saturday’s Test against the Boks, the All Blacks should send the ball wide a lot more, which is why Rokocoko has come in for Jane.
Henry, though, insisted that the player’s experience was the deciding factor.
‘He knows the score, he knows what’s required, and the alternatives in that position have not had that experience,’ said the coach.
‘That was a much easier selection than the [Jimmy] Cowan-[Brendon] Leonard selection [at scrumhalf]. Joe’s form this year hasn’t been great. He’s played well over the past couple of weeks and I think he’s ready to go.
‘You can only prove yourself by getting another chance. You can’t prove yourself by sitting in the stand watching the game. They all want an opportunity … We just try to get the balance right, Cory’s had an opportunity and Joe gets another one.’
Rokocoko will be playing in his 56th Test on Saturday, and has scored nine tries against the Boks – one less than Christian Cullen.