Read captains New Zealand

 Nov 15,2012
Written by: Editor

New Zealand have made 14 changes to their starting line-up that will face Italy in Rome on Saturday, with number eight Kieran Read named as skipper. 

Read will lead the XV for the first time in his 46th Test. The 27-year-old made his All Blacks debut in 2008 and has started in 40 of his Tests, scoring seven tries in the black jersey. Centre Conrad Smith will be All Blacks vice-captain.

As flagged by the coaches, the squad of 23 has been selected on the basis of giving all members of the 32-man All Blacks squad game time in the opening two matches of the European Tour. The team is another strong, experienced one with 534 caps in the XV and a further 219 on the bench.

In the starting XV, the front-row is made up of the All Blacks most capped prop Tony Woodcock, Test centurion Keven Mealamu and 2012 newcomer Charlie Faumuina. At lock, Ali Williams gets a start after coming off the bench against Scotland last week and will link up with Brodie Retallick. Read will have Liam Messam alongside him further back at blindside and Sam Cane at openside.

Aaron Smith is partnered by Manawatu team-mate Aaron Cruden in the half-backs while the the All Blacks most experienced midfield pairing, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, are back. In the outside backs Hosea Gear is on the right wing, Julian Savea gets a second tour Test start, with Beauden Barrett at 15.

Three players were not considered for selection due to injury - Ben Smith (cheek), Tamati Ellison (toe) and Israel Dagg (bruising).

"We were happy with our performance last weekend against Scotland but also knew there were areas for improvement ahead of the Italian Test and we have been working on getting that right this week," said head coach Steve Hansen.

"The team last week put a stake in the ground, and while the performance was nowhere near perfect, there was some quality rugby played. There is now an opportunity for this group to build on that.

"We are expecting another torrid Test against the Italians in front of their passionate fans. They are renowned for their forward play so they will certainly be up for the challenge and we will have to match that physicality. The team is excited about playing in front of the sold out crowd of 80-thousand and this will only add to their motivation."

New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Dan Carter, 23 Cory Jane.

Date: Saturday, November 17
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Venue: Stadio Olimpico
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Peter Allan (Scotland)
Television match official: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)


Tags: International |  New Zealand | 

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