New Zealand selected an unchanged and vastly experienced team for tomorrow’s Rugby World Cup final against Australia as they seek to retain the title and become the first country to win the trophy three times.
After the squad came through a bruising semi-final against South Africa, Steve Hansen can field his strongest unit with the matchday 23 boasting a remarkable 1,339 caps.
Flyhalf Dan Carter will play in his 112th and last international, hoping to bow out on the ultimate high having missed most of the last tournament after being injured in the pool stage and been knocked out in the quarter-finals in 2007.
Centres Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, reserve hooker Keven Mealamu and, almost certainly, captain Richie McCaw, will also be retiring from the test scene after Saturday’s game, the five taking almost 600 caps worth of experience with them.
Seven of the starting team were in the match 15 who played in the win over France in the final four years ago in Auckland.
“We wanted to get some stability. We wanted to get to the business end of the tournament pretty solid on our selection. We have had limited injuries so we have been very lucky,” coach Steve Hansen said.
“When you’ve got experienced players and they are in good form, that’s a massive advantage.”
Today: Third place play-off – 21.00 S. Africa vs Argentina.
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