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Rugby | International Rugby

Steve Hansen © Gallo Images

Hansen confident NZ can overcome illness



New Zealand coach Steve Hansen expects to be able to retain his first-choice side for Saturday's international against England despite the squad falling victim to the norovirus sweeping Britain.

Only two members of the world champions' playing party have escaped the vomiting and diarrhoea bug, which first struck the tourists before Saturday's 33-10 win over Wales in Cardiff.

However, the All Blacks believe they have now come through the worst of the illness and Hansen is not anticipating making any late changes to his matchday 23 this weekend.

"It's been a difficult week because a lot of guys have been sick with diarrhoea and vomiting," Hansen said after naming his team on Thursday.

"Getting the mix right in training has been difficult. Hopefully, we have been smart enough to keep the tanks full to play well.

"There are only two players who have escaped the virus. It started in Wales and has just continued.

"Apparently, half the UK have got it. If you hang around the team hotel too long we will give it to you too. It's a present from the colonials," he joked, referring to the Kiwis former colonial masters, Britain.

No 8 Kieran Read, who suffered from the virus Wednesday, added: "Personally I'm feeling a lot better today. The boys had a good guided tour of the bathrooms yesterday on their day off.

"It's a 24-hour thing. It's just something you have to handle and we'll be all right for Saturday."

Hansen made three changes to his team, recalling star fly-half Dan Carter following the Achilles and calf problems that kept him out against Wales.

Meanwhile Keven Mealamu returned following hooker Andrew Hore's suspension and lock Brodie Retallick was given a second row berth in place of Luke Romano.

New Zealand go into Saturday's test on a 20-match unbeaten run.

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