As promised, the All Blacks have taken risks with their selections for the third test against France and picked a side that has both vast attacking potential and extreme vulnerability.

With four new caps in the 23, the All Blacks team for Dunedin would have to be considered the highest risk Hansen has picked in his coaching tenure.

He has never pushed the boundaries this hard before – not for a game of this magnitude and not for an opponent as dangerous and as alive as the French.

Four new caps in one match squad is a record for Hansen. Twice before he's picked three new caps in one team.


There were three new caps in the team to play Japan in 2013, but with all due respect, the game against the Cherry Blossoms was agreed precisely so the All Blacks could indeed blood new players

The only time Hansen had three debutant All Blacks in the same team for a Tier One, blood and snotters clash, was his first game in charge in 2012 when Julian Savea, Aaron Smith and Brodie Retallick started at Eden Park.

All three forced their way into the starting team on the back of compelling Super Rugby campaigns and all three had come through the age-grade system, starring for the New Zealand Under-20 team.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen comments on All Blacks Jack Goodhue, Shannon Frizell and Jackson Hemopo during a press conference at the All Blacks hotel in Dunedin, in preparation for the upcoming 3rd test against France. / Video by Brett Phibbs

It just hasn't been Hansen's style to throw such caution to the wind and what makes this particular team more vulnerable and more of a risk, is the specific journeys of some of the players and the combined lack of experience in specific areas of the team.

Shannon Frizell starts at blindside on the back of only a handful of games for the Highlanders in his first Super Rugby campaign.

He scored a hat-trick against the Blues in April and physically he looks the part. In what limited game time he has had in Super Rugby, his intentions have been to get involved, carry hard and tackle hard.

But it's doing test football a disservice to not realise that with so little experience even in Super Rugby, that an enormous amount is being asked of Frizell.

He could be brilliant and take to it all without a hitch and thrive under the pressure. Or he could find it a near impossible business to get to grips with the pace and intensity and find he's chasing shadows all night.

It is, if nothing else, going to be fascinating to see how he copes. As it will be should, and probably when his club mate Jackson Hemopo enters the fray.

Hemopo is another wild card – not originally picked in the 33 man squad, he finds himself on the bench after just six days with the team.

He's been impressive in Super Rugby and knocked the British and Irish Lions about last year and as Hansen said, deserves his call-up. Still, it's unusual for the All Blacks to rush a new player so quickly into action.

Jack Goodhue and Richie Mo'unga both played for the All Blacks against the French XV in Lyon last year and both have spent this Super Rugby campaign knocking on the door of a test cap.

Their big moment was always going to come, but perhaps when the selectors envisioned the June series they thought they would slip these two into a third test team that was more established and more experienced.

That's been the preferred way under Hansen – be softly-softly with new caps, gently ease them off the bench one or two at a time, making sure they have seasoned campaigners all around them.

Instead, by the time Mo'unga enters the fray in the second half, the front-row could have a collective 19 test caps between them – two of them in the possession of Karl Tu'inukuafe who no one had heard of a few months ago.

The loose trio, which starts with just 28 caps collectively, could have even less if Savea comes off for Matt Todd and with Sam Whitelock and Owen Franks accounting for 198 of the total 308 caps in the starting pack, there will be a bit of finger crossing going on that neither of those two are injured early.

By Hansen's standards the All Blacks are taking an extraordinary risk to find out just who within their wider group is up to task.

He's gambling that his young team will provide the answer he wants by beating France.

All Blacks team to play France at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday, kick-off 7.35pm is:
15. Ben Smith, 14. Waisake Naholo, 13. Jack Goodhue, 12. Sonny Bill Williams. 11. Rieko Ioane, 10. Damian McKenzie, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Luke Whitelock, 7. Ardie Savea, 6. Shannon Frizell, 5. Scott Barrett, 4. Sam Whitelock ©, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Codie Taylor, 1. Joe Moody.

Reserves: Liam Coltman, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Jackson Hemopo, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Richie Mo'unga, Jordie Barrett.