All Black scrum half Aaron Smith is set to surpass the record of Justin Marshall this weekend, becoming the most capped All Black of all time in his position.
With the All Black team confirmed for Saturday’s clash against Ireland, Smith is set to play in his 82nd test which will take him past the record of 81 tests set by Marshall between 1995-2005.
In speaking of Smith though, Marshall was full of praise.
When you think about the competition he’s had to combat, the likes of Andy Ellis, Piri Weepu when he first came in, Jimmy Cowan, TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow… look at all those names…
“To stay as consistent and get the caps as quickly as what he has shows how good he is, in my mind he’s the best in the world and it’s great to have the All Black halfback as the best No 9.”
Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock will also set a New Zealand record, becoming the first lock pairing to start in 50 tests together.
“On behalf of the All Blacks, we want to congratulate Aaron, Brodie and Sam on their achievements,” said coach Steve Hansen.
Ryan Crotty comes in as the only change to the match day squad that faced England, replacing Sonny Bill Williams who suffered a shoulder injury in the 16-15 win. Anton-Leinert Brown takes up the opening left on the bench by Crotty.
Steve Hanse reinforced the excitement around Saturday’s match up, saying
“These are the types of Test matches that gets everyone up.”
“It’s number one versus number two, and there’s a real excitement that’s building as we get closer to Saturday.”
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown