All Black side named for World Cup opener

By Te Ao - Māori News

After a week of speculation about his fitness, Sonny Bill Williams has been named on the bench for the All Blacks' World Cup match against the Springboks.

Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert- Brown the starting midfield combination. Steve Hansen said the All Blacks have had a fantastic build-up in Japan since arriving ten days ago and there was a keen sense of excitement and anticipation ahead of the Rugby World Cup-opening Test.

"Since transferring from our camp in Kashiwa to Tokyo we have moved into Test match mode this week and our focus has been building throughout the week.  We've had a very good week's training in the heat and rain here in Tokyo, the facilities have been excellent and our Japanese hosts have been outstanding."

Hansen added: "The challenge of playing one of our oldest and most respected foes in the opening Test of RWC2019 has us excited and energised by what lies ahead.  Each time we play South Africa, it's a tight battle and a real arm wrestle.

"To perform at our very best, we'll have to play with real clarity, intent, energy and clear heads. Both teams will have their moments and it'll be our job to ensure we limit theirs and take full opportunity of ours."

The All Blacks team to play South Africa on Saturday September 21 at International Stadium, Yokohama, 9.45PM NZT:

(Test caps in brackets)

1. Joe Moody (41)
2. Dane Coles (64)
3. Nepo Laulala (20)
4. Samuel Whitelock (112)
5. Scott Barrett (32)
6. Ardie Savea (34)
7. Sam Cane (63)
8. Kieran Read - captain (122)
9. Aaron Smith (87)
10. Richie Mo'unga (12)
11. George Bridge (5)
12. Ryan Crotty (45)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (38)
14. Sevu Reece (3)
15. Beauden Barrett (78)
16. Codie Taylor (45)
17. Ofa Tuungafasi (30)
18. Angus Ta'avao (8)
19. Patrick Tuipulotu (25)
20. Shannon Frizell (5)
21. TJ Perenara (59)
22. Sonny Bill Williams (53)
23. Ben Smith (80)