PARIS, France — The All Blacks have made one change for the Rugby World Cup final against the Springboks with Brodie Retallick starting in the second-row.
Retallick comes into the side alongside Scott Barrett in the locks, with Sam Whitelock named among the replacements. One further change sees Nepo Laulala replacing Fletcher Newell on the bench.
It is the All Blacks’ most experienced ever side named for a World Cup final with 1,387 caps.
“It is an honour to fly our nation’s flag in the World Cup final once again,” head coach Ian Foster said. “We are proud of what we have achieved so far in this tournament, but the job is not done yet and we know full well the challenge that lies ahead.
“Of the seven World Cups that have been held outside of New Zealand, the All Blacks have only managed to win one. It goes to show just how hard it is to do but this group is determined to work hard for each other, as we have done all year.
“We know that it’s the last game for some pretty iconic players but, quite frankly, we don’t really want to talk too much about that. There will be time afterwards for that. Right now, the occasion in front of us is so exciting that we don’t want to waste a day thinking about post game.”
Retallick and Smith will be going to play in Japan after the World Cup, Whitelock joins Pau in the French Top 14 and the 36-year-old Coles retires.
He was overlooked for selection for a second successive week with Foster picking Samisoni Taukei’aho as back up hooker instead. Telling Coles he would not get another chance to play for the All Blacks was hard for the coach.
“That was a tough one, probably the toughest I’ve had as a coach,” said Foster on Thursday. “How did he take it? The way I would have expected him to.”
For Retallick, who has 108 caps, the chance to end his All Blacks career in a World Cup final was the ultimate.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “You can’t put into words what it’s like being in World Cup final.
“I was lucky enough to experience it in 2015 and to come here for my last game in the jersey and have the opportunity to go out there and actually win it again … if you want to, you can call it a fairytale ending or whatever … but it definitely beats where we were four years ago when we were playing for third and fourth spot.”
New Zealand team
Beauden Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Mark Telea, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (capt.), Shannon Frizell, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Tyrel Lomax, Codie Taylor, Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Tamaiti Williams, Nepo Laulala, Sam Whitelock, Dalton Papalii, Finlay Christie, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown.
Information from Reuters contributed to this report.