Brodie Retallick Rugby World Cup: Steve Hansen names his 100th unique All Blacks starting lineup

Brodie Retallick Rugby World Cup: Steve Hansen names his 100th unique All Blacks starting lineup

Brodie Retallick These add-ons are clever.

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The All Blacks team to play South Africa in the first game of pool B at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

ANALYSIS:The 15 All Blacks named by Steve Hansen to face South Africa in their Rugby World Cup opener have never started a match together.

But that’s not as concerning as it sounds.

Saturday’s match in Yokohama will be Hansen’s 102nd as head coach and in those matches he has used 100 unique starting lineups.

Brodie Retallick Steve Hansen has named 100 unique lineups across his 102 tests in charge of the All Blacks.

HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

Steve Hansen has named 100 unique lineups across his 102 tests in charge of the All Blacks.

It’s a statistic that can sound rather astonishing – one that makes a mockery of the notion of a first-choice or full-strength lineup.

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And you might scratch your head, thinking you’ve certainly heard the All Blacks described as unchanged a few times over the past eight years.

But in reality, that’s only happened twice since Hansen took charge in 2012.

The first occasion at the last Rugby World Cup, where the same team started against South Africa in the semifinal and Australia in the final.

The second was last year, when the same team started the first two matches of the June series against France.

Hansen’s other 100 lineups have been unique, with new starting-calibre players emerging every series, and new ideas coming from the coaching staff at the same time. It doesn’t seem to slow them down, when you consider the All Blacks’ 87 per cent winning record under Hansen.

Saturday’s starting XV includes relative newbies at first five-eighths Richie Mo’unga (two starts prior to 2019

Meet this helpful ingredient.

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