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Hansen takes no chances with full-strength All Blacks named for Wales clash

Date
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw returns to the New Zealand starting line-up.

All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw returns to the New Zealand starting line-up. Photo: AP

CARDIFF: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named his strongest starting line-up for Saturday's one-off Test against Wales, restoring skipper Richie McCaw and star fly-half Dan Carter to the side.

After experimenting in the first two Tests of the tour to give all of his 32-man squad a run, Hansen opted to take no chances against an out-of-form Wales desperate to redeem themselves by downing the world champions.

"We have always known that this game will be a fiercely contested match... we have known since the World Cup that this would be the the game they would be targeting in this series," Hansen said.

"So any recent performances or results won't have any bearing on this match."

McCaw, rested for last week's 42-10 win over Italy, takes the captain's armband back from Kieran Read, while Carter replaces understudy Aaron Cruden at No.10 after warming the bench in Rome.

In all, there are nine changes from the side that defeated Italy with Tony Woodcock the only survivor in a revamped tight five featuring Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Luke Romano and Sam Whitelock.

Liam Messam was retained as blindside flanker over Adam Thomson, whose one-match ban for stamping on Alasdair Strokosch in a 51-22 win over Scotland is being appealed by the International Rugby Board as "unduly lenient".

Hansen said he did not want the appeal to disrupt the team's preparation.

In the backs, Hansen stuck with the experienced centre pairing of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, who played a key role in demolishing Italy.

Fullback Israel Dagg returns from injury at the expense of Beauden Barrett, while Cory Jane replaces Hosea Gear on the right wing.

Julian Savea, this year's top international try scorer with 10 five-pointers in seven Tests, kept his place on the left wing, making him the only player to start in all three of New Zealand's tour matches.

Aaron Smith held off a challenge from a resurgent Piri Weepu at scrum-half, although Hansen conceded it was a close call after Weepu's strong performance against Scotland.

The All Blacks are on a run of 19 Tests undefeated and have posted 24 straight wins over Wales since they last lost to the Red Dragons in 1953.

They enter the fixture as overwhelming favourites against a Wales team reeling after a run of five successive defeats, including a 26-19 loss to bogey team Samoa last week.

Hansen said the hosts would be determined to end their horror run and return to the form that delivered this year's Six Nations championship and a semi-final berth at last year's World Cup.

New Zealand wrap up their tour at Twickenham on December 1 against England, who are the last team to defeat them on a northern hemisphere tour, with a 31-28 win in 2002.

New Zealand: Israel Dagg; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Dan Carter, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam; Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith.

AFP

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR vs AUS 01:30Twic
USA vs NZL 07:00Soldier Field
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs SAM 01:00Stadio Del Duca
ENG vs NZL 01:30Twic
WAL vs AUS 01:30MilS
FRA vs FJI 03:45Stade Velodrome
IRE vs RSA 04:30Lansdowne Road
SCO vs ARG 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs ARG 01:00Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris
ENG vs RSA 01:30Twic
WAL vs FJI 01:30MilS
SCO vs NZL 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
FRA vs AUS 07:00StdF
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE vs GEO 01:30Lansdowne Road
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs RSA 01:00Stadio Plebiscito
SCO vs TGA 01:30Rugby Park
IRE vs AUS 03:30Lansdowne Road
WAL vs NZL 04:30MilS
ENG vs SAM 06:00Twic
FRA vs ARG 07:00StdF
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
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