All Blacks team named for Test against Wales
Samuel Whitelock to captain All Blacks for the first time
The All Blacks team has been named to play Wales in the third Test of the Vista 2017 All Blacks Northern Tour at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday 25 November (Kick-off: 5.15PM BST; NZT: 6.15AM, Sunday 26 November), with lock Samuel Whitelock to captain the All Blacks for the first time.
The match-day 23 is as follows (with Test caps):
1. Kane Hames (8)
2. Codie Taylor (28)
3. Nepo Laulala (12)
4. Patrick Tuipulotu (15)
5. Samuel Whitelock (95) – captain
6. Liam Squire (14)
7. Sam Cane (52)
8. Luke Whitelock (1)
9. Aaron Smith (70)
10. Beauden Barrett (61)
11. Rieko Ioane (12)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (45)
13. Ryan Crotty (34)
14. Waisake Naholo (17)
15. Damian McKenzie (11)
16. Nathan Harris (10)
17. Wyatt Crockett (70)
18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (13)
19. Scott Barrett (13)
20. Matt Todd (12)
21. TJ Perenara (41)
22. Lima Sopoaga (15)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (21)
29-year-old Whitelock, the most capped All Blacks lock of all time, takes over as Captain for Kieran Read, who will miss the Test because of injury. Read has been replaced at number eight by Luke Whitelock.
There is one other injury-enforced change to the matchday 23 which played Scotland last week: Patrick Tuipulotu comes in for Luke Romano. Meanwhile, Liam Squire will start at blindside flanker, and lock Scott Barrett comes onto the bench in the 19 jersey.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “Whilst it’s disappointing to not have ‘Reado’ available, it’s a great opportunity to further grow the leadership of the team and, in this case, Sam Whitelock gets the opportunity to captain the side. On behalf of the team, we’d like to congratulate him on this special honour.
“With his brother Luke captaining the All Blacks against the French XV, it will create a unique, All Blacks family history, and one which their family can be proud of.”
Steve Hansen added: “There’s been a real energy and buzz in the team this week as we prepare for the Test against Wales. The group has worked hard on its preparation, we’ve asked them to go bone deep and they’re looking to deliver a performance we can all be proud of.
“It’s always a pleasure to play in stadiums like the Millennium. We experienced a magnificent atmosphere last week up in Murrayfield and looking forward to a full house on Saturday. The Welsh are well known for their singing and that, in itself, creates something special. As always, we have been treated incredibly well here in Cardiff and have thoroughly enjoyed our week.”
* The All Blacks have played Wales 33 times since 1905, with 30 wins to the All Blacks and three wins to Wales. The last match between the two sides was in Dunedin in June 2016, which the All Blacks won 46-6. The last Test in Cardiff was in November 2014, which the All Blacks won 24-16.
* Sam and Luke Whitelock will join Wellington brothers Harry and Marcus Nicholls (from the 1920s) as the only set of brothers to have captained the All Blacks. Sam Whitelock will be the 69th player to captain the All Blacks in a Test.
* Beauden Barrett has kicked a record 41 conversions this year and scored 160 points in total in Test matches for the All Blacks this year – there have been just four higher totals by an All Black.
* The All Blacks have scored 468 points in Test matches this year – for an average of 36 points per Test – and scored 62 tries.
* The most points Wales has scored against the All Blacks was 37 at Rugby World Cup 2003 – when Wales were coached by Steve Hansen.
The Vista 2017 All Blacks Northern Tour
1. Barbarians 22 All Blacks 31, Saturday 4 November, Twickenham, LONDON
2. France 18 All Blacks 38, Saturday 11 November, Stade de France, PARIS
3. France XV 23 All Blacks 28, Tuesday 14 November, Groupama Stadium, LYON
4. Scotland 17 All Blacks 22, Saturday 18 November, Murrayfield, EDINBURGH
5. vs. WALES, Saturday 25 November, Millennium Stadium, CARDIFF
Kick-off: 5.15PM BST (NZT: 6.15AM, Sunday 26 November, NZT)