All Blacks team named to play Wales; Inspirational skipper Richie McCaw to bring up century of Tests as captain

The All Blacks team to play Wales in the final Test of the MyRepublic Northern Tour at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, this Saturday 22 November (Kick-off: 5.30PM UKT, 7.30pm SA time 6.30AM Sun 23 Nov NZT) has been named, with the selectors naming a very experienced side to take on the Welsh.

This weekend’s Test will be a special moment for All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who will reach another milestone in his outstanding career when he captains the All Blacks for the 100th time in a Test in his 137th Test.

It will be a fitting occasion, as McCaw captained the All Blacks for the first time against the Welsh exactly 10 years ago today, on 20 November 2004, in his 25th Test.

The team to play Wales is (Test caps in brackets):

Starting XV:

1. Wyatt Crockett (35)
2. Dane Coles (26)
3. Owen Franks (66)
4. Brodie Retallick (35)
5. Samuel Whitelock (61)
6. Jerome Kaino (55)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (136)
8. Kieran Read (71)
9. Aaron Smith (37)
10. Beauden Barrett (27)
11. Julian Savea (32)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (22)
13. Conrad Smith (84)
14. Charles Piutau (13)
15. Ben Smith (37)

Reserves:

16. Keven Mealamu (122)
17. Joe Moody (7)
18. Charlie Faumuina (26)
19. Patrick Tuipulotu (6)
20. Liam Messam (39)
21. TJ Perenara (10)
22. Colin Slade (16)
23. Ryan Crotty (12)

The selectors have named an experienced starting forward pack, with hooker Dane Coles and props Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks making up the front row. LocksBrodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock return to the second row, while McCaw is re-joined by the hard-hitting Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read in the back row. The All Blacks also have experienced forward firepower to call on from the bench, with 122-Test hooker Keven Mealamu, prop Charlie Faumuina and loose forward Liam Messam complementing the younger duo of lock Patrick Tuipulotu and prop JoeMoody.

In the backs, halfback Aaron Smith will start his 12th Test of the year, while first five-eighth Beauden Barrett has been given the 10 jersey. Sonny Bill Williamsand Conrad Smith, in his 85th Test, are in the midfield, while Julian Savea andCharles Piutau are on the wings and Ben Smith is at fullback. The back reserves are halfback TJ Perenara, Colin Slade and Ryan Crotty.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “This was a very difficult team to select as we have a lot of players in great form. However, we believe this is the right combination of 23 players to represent the All Blacks and New Zealand very proudly on Saturday.

“It’s always a great occasion to play at Millennium Stadium, which is one of the great stadiums in the world. We have had a good week’s preparation and we are expecting a physical Test with a high ‘ball-in-play’ time. We know we will have to be totally engaged in our own roles for the full 80 minutes and take the game to the Welsh at every opportunity.”

Hansen also paid tribute to McCaw and Mealamu, who will also go into the New Zealand rugby record books when he comes off the bench on Saturday, playing his 362nd first-class game.

“On behalf of the team and myself, we would like to congratulate Richie on the impressive milestone of captaining his country in 100 Test matches. There is no doubt his leadership has grown phenomenally over the years and he is now one of the all-time great leaders of any sports team.

“We would also like to congratulate Kevie in advance of his achievement. He is a wonderful player and ambassador for the All Blacks and his country,” Hansen said.

Key milestones

* The All Blacks and Wales have played 29 Tests since 1905, with the All Blacks winning 26 matches and three wins for the Welsh. The last Test was in Cardiff in November 2012 when the All Blacks won 33-10.

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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