The All Blacks team to play Wales tonight is :

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, with lock Samuel Whitelock to captain the All Blacks for the first time.

This is the last game of the season for the 2017 team.
The matchday 23 is (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 pictured at Newlands doing captains press conference prior to 7 Oct Match watched by Martin Myers ,Craig Marais ,Grant Shub

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.”

Key notes

* 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

Sacking BOK Coach Coetzee would be like putting an elastoplast on an amputation.

It is as simple as this. If the South African Rugby Union was listed on the stock exchange, the Board of Directors would be fired. The investors would have looked at the plunging stock, the disappearing dividends, and heads would roll.

There is no sentiment in business. Not when there is cold cash involved and expectant investors.

Are we taking it too far in saying that the Springboks are far more than sport and a business and that the Saru Board should fall on its sword?

Of course not. And when we are talking about a brand as internationally famous as the Springboks, the economic impact of a brand in free-fall becomes more complicated.

There are the direct stakeholders, the title sponsors and a whole bunch of supporting financial contributors that have their name attached to the Boks but, perhaps even more importantly, there is the countless multitude of “silent investors” that are the supporters.

The folk who buy (and burn!) the supporters jerseys and pay large sums to watch their team in stadiums around the world.

Springbok matches are watched by South Africans in virtually every city in the world. I have found a pub to watch a Springbok match in Bangkok and New York, others will have found a live screening in a startling array of arenas across the globe.

The Boks are big business. Those green and gold jerseys surface all around the world when the Boks play.

But what if more immediate supporters, those in South Africa, just stopped going to watch the Boks get humiliated …. again?

It is not debatable that the Boks are at their lowest ever ebb. Yes, they have lost a number of matches in a season before, such as in 1965 when there were seven losses and just one win (which was against the All Blacks) but that has been against top class opposition.

This year, the scale of the losses has been horrible, and how on earth can a Springbok team possibly lose to a very poor Italy team?

The easy target is Allister Coetzee and yes, he has been proved terribly out of his depth, but I feel sympathy for him and my sentiment is that the buck should stop with the Board that appointed him in the first place.

Allister was never going to be a success. And especially with the backroom staff that he was (mostly) given. I have nothing against Mzwandile Stick but how can he come from absolutely nowhere to coach the backline of the Boks? We know that it is because the coaching staff of Heyneke Meyer was seen to be too white.

Why on earth not continue with Ricardo Loubscher, one of Heyneke Meyer’s assistants who had spent four years with the Boks and is highly regarded? He would have been a merit appointment and offered continuity.

This is just one point among many that critics could make.

The bottom line is do not blame Coetzee for the blunders he has made this season, blame those who appointed him.

The stakeholders should be targeting the South African Rugby Union, not the hapless Coetzee. He did not appoint himself and he is surely doing his best.

But he was set up to fail by an amateurish Saru Board who did no forward planning – have they ever given that the Bok coaching staff changes entirely every post-World Cup year? – and appointed Coetzee almost by default. The suspicion is that nobody else could be found to take the job and the lateness of Coetzee’s appointment this year confirms that Saru were squirming ever since the end of the 2015 World Cup when they made it untenable for Meyer to continue.

Meyer did not want to leave. Yes he lost to Japan but in the end the Boks came third at the World Cup and almost beat the All Blacks in the semi-finals (18-20).

What would be soothing for the army of Springbok supporters worldwide (who can only voice their dissatisfaction on social media) is if the financial muscle that sponsors the Boks got together and read the Riot Act to the real culprits that are sinking South African rugby.

Sacking Coetzee, with no change among the green-blazered denizens of the Saru boardroom, would be like putting an elastoplast on an amputation.

BY Mike Greenaway

ENDS

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