All Blacks little changed for Scotland

Nov 16, 2017 - 4:55 PM All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says first appearances can be deceiving after naming an entirely predictable team for their fourth tour match, against Scotland at Murrayfield.

There is one injury-enforced change to the starting side which beat France in Paris for Saturday's clash.

Codie Taylor replaces Dane Coles, who has returned home with a serious knee injury, allowing Nathan Harris to come onto the bench.

Starting blindside flanker Vaea Fifita holds off Liam Squire, who is on the bench at the expense of Scott Barrett.

Hansen said the announcement was delayed for 12 hours while the fitness of captain Kieran Read (hip flexor) and a number of players battered in Tuesday's win over a French selection were assessed.

Hansen also revealed a number of the midweek team were heaping pressure on the first-choice tour outfit through efforts at training and in the games, suggesting the team for next week's finale against Wales won't be cut and dried.

"You don't have to say anything do you? The stats haven't told any lies," Hansen said of the second-string line-up.

"They've put enough heat on the boys and the older guys understand that the other team has set the standard defensively, as an example.

"There's a little bit of a challenge on there and that's good. And it's only going to get better."

Hansen said a fine example came at No.6, where Squire was strongly considered to start but only missed out because of the short turnaround.

Hansen confirmed Fifita would cover lock, a position he mainly plays at the Hurricanes, but he hopes it won't happen often.

"For me he's got the capability of being a world class No.6. You don't want to be mucking him around playing two positions at once."

Read convinced the selectors of his fitness at Thursday's last full training session, where he appeared to run freely. The veteran skipper was replaced with half an hour remaining in Paris.

There is no respite for bench pairing Lima Sopoaga and Ofa Tu'ungafasi. The Highlanders first five-eighth and Blues prop will make it four appearances out of four on tour if they come on.

All Blacks: Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (capt), Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Kane Hames.

Reserves: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Liam Squire, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown.

Source: AAP

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