Ben Smith ruled out of All Blacks XV for second Lions Test
Full-back suffered concussion in opening win, Ryan Crotty also out for New Zealand
Ben Smith has been ruled out pof the second Test between New Zealand and the Lions. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty
New Zealand full-back Ben Smith has been ruled out of Saturday’s second Test against the British and Irish Lions.
Smith, who suffered concussion during last weekend’s 30-15 victory in the first match, and centre Ryan Crotty (hamstring) are both sidelined for the Westpac Stadium clash.
Israel Dagg moves from the wing to replace Smith, with Waisake Naholo wearing the number 14 shirt and Anton Lienert-Brown taking over from Crotty alongside Sonny Bill Williams in midfield.
One switch on the bench, meanwhile, sees uncapped Ngani Laumape featuring among the back-division replacements.
Laumape scored a try for the Hurricanes in a thrilling 31-31 draw with the Lions in Wellington on Tuesday, and is now promoted to New Zealand’s match-day Test squad.
The All Blacks will wrap a series victory ahead of next week’s third Test if they topple the Lions again.
New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen said: “While it’s disappointing to lose both Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty, it creates an opportunity for others.
“Izzy (Dagg) is a world class back-three player, as is Anton in the midfield, and both Waisake and Ngani are coming in following outstanding performances against the Lions for their respective Super (Rugby) franchises.
“While we were happy with the win last weekend, we know that it was just a start in what is a three-Test series.
“That means the job is far from done. It is going to require us to take our game to a higher level. It’s going to be very demanding, physically and mentally, on both sides.
“We are aware the British and Irish Lions have their backs to the wall and will chuck everything at us to keep themselves alive in the series. They are a quality side who we respect immensely.
“In reality, last week’s Test could have gone either way had they taken more of their chances.
“Our job will be to make sure that we shut down their counter-attack better than we did last weekend, and at the same time, win the critical moments across the 80 minutes.
“As always, it will start with the battle of the tight five.
“We’ve worked hard throughout the week in our preparation in Wellington, and are now looking forward to Saturday.”
New Zealand: I Dagg; W Naholo, A Lienert-Brown, S B Williams, R Ioane; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, C Taylor, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, S Cane, K Read (capt). Replacements: N Harris, W Crockett, C Faumuina, S Barrett, A Savea, TJ Perenara, A Crruden, N Laumape.