Loading...
Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Rugby | International Rugby

Read to captain All Blacks against Italy



No 8 Kieran Read will captain the All Blacks for the first time against Italy on Saturday as coach Steve Hansen continues his long-term planning for a successor to Richie McCaw.

The 27-year-old Read had been widely expected to be given the captaincy for at least one match on the end-of-season tour as Hansen had said he wanted every player in the 32-man squad to get game time, which would allow giving McCaw a rest.

McCaw, 31, who led the team in their 51-22 victory over Scotland last Sunday, has dropped out of the squad altogether with Sam Cane to start at openside flanker.

"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," Hansen said in a statement.

"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."

Hansen's wholesale changes to the side include naming regular flyhalf Beauden Barrett to start at fullback.

Barrett slotted into the position seamlessly last Sunday when he came on as a substitute for the Israel Dagg, who was not considered for the Italy match due to bruising he sustained after a heavy fall.

Utility back Ben Smith, who would have normally been expected to slot into fullback, was also not considered after he suffered an injury to his cheek while playing against Scotland.

His centre partner Tamati Ellison was also not considered due to a toe injury so Hansen re-instated veteran duo Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, while he picked Hosea Gear and Julian Savea to start on the wings.

The former Wales coach also expected a tough confrontation from Italy's forwards so shook up his pack, with regular first choice players Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu returning to the front row with Charlie Faumuina starting at tighthead prop.

"We are expecting another torrid test against the Italians in front of their passionate fans," Hansen added.

"They are renowned for their forward play so they will certainly be up for the challenge and we will have to match that physicality."

Veteran lock Ali Williams also makes his first start in the test side since last year's World Cup after he was used as a substitute during tests against Ireland in June and then had to recover from knee surgery.

He joins Brodie Retallick in a new locking combination after Sam Whitelock and Luke Romanao started at Murrayfield on Sunday.

Blindside flanker Liam Messam replaces Adam Thomson, who was suspended for making contact with the head of Scotland's Alasdair Strokosch, though Messam had been expected to start the match anyway, irrespective of Thomson's ban.

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 (captain), 7-Sam Cane, 6-Liam Messam, 5-Brodie Retallick, 4-Ali Williams, 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-Daniel Carter, 23-Cory Jane

Shop

The Poisoned Chalice
The Springboks have had several post-isolation coaches, and if they agree on nothing else, they will concur that everyone in the job suffers enormous pressure
R157.00
Coach - Marco Botha
At 34, Heyneke Meyer was fired as head coach of a Super Rugby team for the second time
R114.00
South Africa XV Ball
South Africa XV Ball Now: R119 Was: R200 Format:Sport EquipmentProduct type:SportDelivery:Dispatched within 24 hours (1 working day) This fan ball...
R119.00


Comments

More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Other Live Streaming

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Latest Video Highlights

Sports Talk



Kyle Brown
Fans, fun and Sevens success
The week leading up to the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens was a special one. The fans were passionate,...

Brendan Venter
Boks must think outside the box
Springbok supporters have every right to feel disenchanted after an underwhelming end-of-year tour.

Tony Johnson
Boks and Wallabies burnt in final outings
Playing the last test of the year in the last week of November has again proven to be a stumbling...

Gavin Rich
Boks learned quite a lot actually
When SuperSport returned from the Millennium Stadium to the studio discussion, it was mentioned...