WELLINGTON - All Blacks blindside flanker Liam Messam has received the nod over in-form youngster Steven Luatua to start in tomorrow's top-of-the-table Rugby Championship match against South Africa at Eden Park.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says the decision was a tough one.
"In the end we have gone for Liam's extra experience and physicality, but we also know that Steven will enter the contest at some stage," he said.
As well as the return of Messam from hamstring injury, the run-on team features the return of prop Owen Franks in his 50th Test and midfielder Ma'a Nonu, back after ankle problems.
In other changes, Sam Cane replaces injured All Blacks captain Richie McCaw at openside flanker and Dane Coles starts at hooker, with 105-Test veteran Keven Mealamu to provide impact from the bench.
With Franks starting, prop Charlie Faumuina moves to the bench, joining Luatua who is covering lock and loose forward, and injury replacement openside flanker Matt Todd.
No.8 Kieran Read will captain the team in his 55th Test.
Hansen says Saturday's game is shaping as a massive encounter.
"We have a massive amount of respect for South Africa," he said.
South Africa will field the same starting 15 and the same bench as they did for their 38-12 humbling of Australia in Brisbane last weekend.
New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Daniel Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Tony Woodcock.
Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua, Matt Todd, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau.