Jack Goodhue's meteoric rise continues — the Crusaders midfielder has been named to start at centre for the All Blacks in the first Bledisloe Cup test against Australia in Sydney.
It will be the 23-year-old's second cap after he started in the third test against France in Dunedin; afterwards he said the lift in level from Super Rugby was extraordinarily large, but such is his talent and composure he will be expected to form a near impregnable defensive partnership with his Crusaders teammate Ryan Crotty.
There is little doubt the Wallabies will target Goodhue, preferred ahead of the more experienced Anton Lienert-Brown, but his defensive abilities, plus the fact that he is such a good distributor of the ball, and so good at running with it close to the opposition tryline, means he would have been a near irresistible selection for Steve Hansen and company.
Goodhue, who famously didn't make any national age-group teams until he got to under-20 level, has been destined for big things since making his Super Rugby debut last year, and this is a continuation of it. He will almost certainly be a starter in the big World Cup tests next year.
Elsewhere, Brodie Retallick returns for his first test since the demolition of South Africa at North Harbour's QBE Stadium last September — a welcome comeback from a chest injury for one of the best locks in the world.
He will start alongside Sam Whitelock, 29, who will be playing in his 100th test, the first All Black lock to celebrate the milestone and the eighth in total.
Also returning is skipper and No 8 Kieran Read, the 32-year-old making his comeback from back surgery late last year. It will be his first test since November.
"On behalf of the team, we want to congratulate Sammy on what will be a very special night for him and his family," Hansen said. "We're all very proud of him. He's been an outstanding contributor to this team for a long time, both on and off the field. To play one test for the All Blacks is an achievement in itself but to be good enough to be selected and play 100 tests is a remarkable feat. In doing so, he will join what is a small group of very special All Blacks."
Hansen added: "It's also great to have Brodie and Kieran back after their lengthy absences. They both bring special qualities to the team and we look forward to seeing them produce that again in the black jersey."
The Crusaders, fresh from defending their Super Rugby title, make up five of the All Blacks' pack, with the front row of Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks joining Whitelock and Read.
Beauden Barrett returns to first-five after missing the last test against France with concussion, with Ben Smith named at fullback and Waisake Naholo on the right wing.
Aaron Smith and Rieko Ioane virtually select themselves at halfback and left wing, respectively.
Damian McKenzie is the No 10 back-up, with Ardie Savea the loose forward cover.
Perhaps surprisingly, Lienert-Brown, rather than Jordie Barrett, is preferred on the bench as the third back alongside TJ Perenara.
Hansen added: "We're all excited at what is shaping up to be another classic Bledisloe Cup encounter here in Sydney on Saturday night.
"We know that we have to earn the right to perform by preparing well and taking each moment that arises, and that mindset has been reflected in our preparation this week, which has been very good.
"The Bledisloe means a lot to this team and we have the opportunity to show just how much on Saturday night. As far as we're concerned, neither team currently has possession of the Cup and if we want it, we've got to front up and take it."
All Blacks team
15: Ben Smith
14: Waisake Naholo
13: Jack Goodhue
12: Ryan Crotty
11: Rieko Ioane
10: Beauden Barrett
9: Aaron Smith
8: Kieran Read (c)
7: Sam Cane
6: Liam Squire
5: Sam Whitelock
4: Brodie Retallick
3: Owen Franks
2: Codie Taylor
1: Joe Moody
16. Nathan Harris
17. Karl Tu'inukuafe
18. Ofa Tuungafasi
19. Scott Barrett
20. Ardie Savea
21. TJ Perenara
22. Damian McKenzie
23. Anton Lienert-Brown