10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Last week Justin Marshall and Xavier Rush had a pop at the Aussies after their Pacific Islands test, suggesting the Aussies had been a bit soft and were whinging about the Islanders' physical approach. Marshall, for good measure, then revealed that he hadn't fully gotten over George Smith's tackle in the World Cup semi-final which he felt was late and dangerous. The tackle put Marshall out of the match. He told NZPA "I still hold a slight grudge. It's not something I go out in a game thinking about, but if an opportunity presents itself, I'll try and get him back." Smith starts the game on the bench, but presumably Marshall has managed only to alert Rolland to the possibilities.
Now Eddie Jones has stirred the pot further by insisting that the All Blacks use illegal techniques in clearing out the defensive cover at ruck-time. "A number of players - particularly [Jono] Gibbes and [Keith] Robinson - are very adept at taking the No.1 defender out of the ruck and then getting [Justin] Marshall to take the ball forward," said Jones.
"The law is quite clear that you can clean out a coffee table [size area around the tackler], it's not a boardroom table - seems most coffee tables are a bit bigger over here [in New Zealand]."
"The problems in the New Zealand-England Tests, particularly some of the foul play, was because of the fact players were being taken out off the ball," he said.
"We're hoping the referee will deal with it [on Saturday] - if he doesn't deal with it then we'll have to deal with it." Plus ca change, Eddie.
Meantime the All Blacks are sweating on a late injury to second row Keith Robinson's back. If he can't make it he will be replaced by Otago player Simon Maling.