Big guns back for All Blacks
November 22, 2012
Richie McCaw returns to captain the All Blacks for their clash with Wales on Saturday © Getty Images
New Zealand have named a strong line-up for their showdown with Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday including recalls for captain Richie McCaw and fly-half Dan Carter.
McCaw, who sat out last weekend's 42-10 win against Italy in Rome, returns at openside in the place of Sam Cane who drops out of the squad while Carter back in the No.10 shirt at the expense of Aaron Cruden who drops to the bench.
Head coach Steve Hansen has made a total of nine changes to the side that swept the Azzurri aside with loose-head prop Tony Woodcock the only player to survive in the tight five. He will pack down alongside hooker Andrew Hore and tight-head Owen Franks with Luke Romano and Sam Whitelock partnered in the second row.
Liam Messam keeps his spot at blindside with rival Adam Thomson's availability in question after the International Rugby Board chose to appeal his recent one-match ban that they saw as 'unduly lenient'.
Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith will continue their record-breaking partnership in midfield with Israel Dagg named at fullback in the place of Beauden Barrett. Cory Jane gets the nod over Hosea Gear on the right wing with the in-form Julian Savea is retained on the left. Aaron Smith is preferred at scrum-half ahead of Piri Weepu.
Ahead of his side's latest tour challenge, Hansen said: "We have always known this game will be a fiercely contested match. The Welsh team in the last 12 months have been Grand Slam winners and 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-finalists and we have known since the World Cup that this would be the game that they would be targeting in this Autumn Series, so any recent performances or results won't have any bearing on this match.
"We are all excited by what comes with this challenge, along with the fact that we will be playing in one of the world's greatest rugby stadiums."
New Zealand: Israel Dagg; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Dan Carter, Aaron Smith; Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw (capt), Kieran Read
Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The fairytale continued right to the end for the magic man." Tom Hamilton reports on the game that saw Brian O'Driscoll bid adieu with the Six Nations title
"It is a sign of how far this England team have come that they looked disappointed at the full-time whistle having just put 52 points on Italy." Tom Hamilton writes
We pick out the a selection of the best photographs from a memorable championship in the Six Nations in pictures
We bring together a selection of the best pictures from the final round of the Six Nations and one which ended in Irish victory