June 28, 2017 / 5:18 PM / 9 months ago

Laumape named on New Zealand bench for Lions test

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Ngani Laumape could make his debut off the bench for the All Blacks against the British and Irish Lions in the crucial second test in Wellington on Saturday.

The 24-year-old centre produced a storming performance against the Lions for the Wellington Hurricanes in their 31-31 draw on Tuesday.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen made injury-enforced changes with Israel Dagg shifting from right wing to fullback to replace the concussed Ben Smith with Anton Lienert-Brown elevated to the starting side after Ryan Crotty suffered a hamstring injury.

Waisake Naholo has been named on the right wing.

“Whilst it’s disappointing to lose both Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty, it creates an opportunity for others,” Hansen said in a statement.

“Izzy (Israel Dagg) is a world-class back three player, as is Anton in the midfield, and both Waisake and Ngani are coming into the test side following outstanding performances against the Lions for their respective Super franchises.”

The forward pack, who were impressive in the 30-15 first test victory remains unchanged and Hansen said they would need to maintain that intensity to seal the series at Wellington Regional Stadium.

“Whilst we were happy with the win last weekend, we know that it was just a start, in what is a three-test series,” Hansen added.

“That means the job is far from done. It’s 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’re 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.

“In reality, last week’s test could’ve 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.”

New Zealand: 15-Israel Dagg, 14-Waisake Naholo, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Rieko Ioane, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Kieran Read (captain), 7-Sam Cane, 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Codie Taylor, 1-Joe Moody.

Replacements: 16-Nathan Harris, 17-Wyatt Crockett, 18-Charlie Faumuina, 19-Scott Barrett, 20-Ardie Savea, 21-TJ Perenara, 22-Aaron Cruden, 23-Ngani Laumape.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Toby Davis

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