Romano, Messam front Wallabies

Luke Romano and Liam Messam are surprise selections for New Zealand ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against Australia in Sydney.

Many had backed Brodie Retallick, who impressed in the June Tests, to start at lock ahead of Romano. But the Crusaders man runs on, as does Messam, who was expected to be used as an impact player for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup Test.

Elsewhere, Sonny Bill Williams will play the first of two Tests before he departs for Japan, while Hosea Gear gets the nod ahead of Julian Savea at wing. Winger Cory Jane starts his first Test of the year, having been ruled out of the Irish series because of injury.

All Blacks – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ma’a Nonu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith.