CHICAGO (AP) — Jerome Kaino became the answer to New Zealand's lock worries and scrumhalf Aaron Smith was recalled for the test against Ireland at Soldier Field on Saturday.
Kaino, the blindside flanker who covers lock, will start his 76th test in the second row for the first time after the All Blacks' stocks were depleted. Not available were regulars Brodie Retallick (concussion) and Sam Whitelock (ankle injury), and Luke Romano, who returned home this week because of a family bereavement.
Kaino will partner Patrick Tuipulotu, the only specialist lock left in the squad with test experience. Scott Barrett, the younger brother of flyhalf Beauden, was in the reserves and likely to make his debut.
Smith missed the last two tests in Durban and Auckland after he was caught going into an airport toilet with a woman in Christchurch while travelling with the team a month ago. In his absence, TJ Perenara was outstanding, and scored three tries.
Smith and Tuipulotu were among seven changes - Kaino's was positional - to the side which beat Australia 37-10 at Eden Park two weeks ago for a record 18th successive win by a major team.
Openside flanker Sam Cane, who missed the last four tests with a hamstring injury, was back in place of Matt Todd, and Liam Squire on the blindside vacated by Kaino.
In the backline, George Moala was named at outside center for Anton Lienert-Brown, who was nominated this week for world breakthrough player of the year, and Waisake Naholo was on the right wing instead of Israel Dagg.
Julian Savea, on the left wing, will play his 50th test. He has 45 tries, seven this year.
New Zealand: Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, George Moala, Ryan Crotty, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Liam Squire, Jerome Kaino, Patrick Tuipulotu, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa.