All Blacks Ioane fit to face France, Fifita starts

Getty Images

Rieko Ioane returns to the New Zealand side to face injury-hit France on Saturday after recovering from mumps and Vaea Fifita will also start in Paris.

Ioane was in quarantined at the All Blacks hotel in London after being laid low by the viral disease, but the prolific wing is fit to face Les Bleus at Stade de France.Fifita comes in at blindside flanker for a third international start in the absence of Jerome Kaino (knee) and Liam Squire (illness).

Captain Kieran Read, hooker Dane Coles, lock Sam Whitelock and scrum-half Aaron Smith return along with centres Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty after sitting out the victory over the Barbarians last weekend.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said: "This weekend is another opportunity for us to continue growing our standards, our game and our skillsets. If we can do that and put in a complete 80-minute game we'll go a long way to putting in a performance we can all be proud of.

"Having said that, France are an exciting team and playing France in Paris is one of the biggest challenges in rugby. While most of our players know what to expect, six of the matchday 23 haven't played the French before so it'll be a new experience for them and an exciting challenge for the entire squad."

New Zealand: Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Kane Hames, Dane Coles, Nepo Laulala, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Vaea Fifita, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (captain).

Replacements: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown.