KEO News Wire

Crotty replaces injured Williams for Ireland showdown

Ryan Crotty replaces Sonny Bill Williams in the only change to the New Zealand side for Saturday’s clash with Ireland.

Williams suffered a shoulder injury in the dramatic 16-15 win over England last weekend and will not feature in a showdown between the top two teams in the rankings at the Aviva Stadium.

Crotty came off the bench when Williams was withdrawn at Twickenham and starts at inside centre in Dublin, with Anton Lienert-Brown named among the replacements.

Aaron Smith will become the most capped All Black number nine of all time when he plays in his 82nd Test.

Head coach Steve Hansen said: “This will be another great challenge for our squad and one that we’re all really looking forward to.

“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.

“The earlier part of our week has been about getting our processes and clarity right, focusing on our core roles and the execution of our skills and then going out and training well.

“On Saturday, we’ll be playing an opponent who will want to keep the ball for long periods of time, and if they aren’t getting what they want, then they’ll kick and try to pressure us.

“For us, we’ll need to be strong at set piece, both on our ball and theirs, and be prepared to work hard with or without the ball. When the momentum comes our way, we’ll need to take the opportunities that will come, as the team that makes the most of their opportunities will win the game.”

New Zealand: Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Karl Tu’inukuafe, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, Kieran Read (captain).

Replacements: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Scott Barrett, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Richie Mo’unga, Anton Lienert-Brown. News wire is powered by opta

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