McCaw to win 100th cap as All Black captain

Richie McCaw is back in the All Black starting line up

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has named his team with Richie McCaw set to win his 100th cap as captain for New Zealand against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

McCaw has already won 137 Test caps for New Zealand but this weekend he will captain the All Blacks for the on hundredth time.

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 New Zealand selectors have named an experienced starting forward pack, with hooker Dane Coles and props Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks making up the front row.

Locks Brodie 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 Joe Moody.

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 Williams and Conrad Smith, in his 85th Test, are in the midfield, while Julian Savea and Charles Piutau are on the wings and Ben Smith is at fullback. The back reserves are halfback TJ Perenara, Colin Slade and Ryan Crotty.

“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, said Hansen.

“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.,

New Zealand

1. Wyatt Crockett , 2. Dane Coles , 3. Owen Franks , 4. Brodie Retallick , 5. Samuel Whitelock , 6. Jerome Kaino , 7. Richie McCaw – (c), 8. Kieran Read , 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Julian Savea, 12. Sonny Bill Williams , 13. Conrad Smith, 14. Charles Piutau , 15. Ben Smith

Replacements:16. Keven Mealamu , 17. Joe Moody, 18. Charlie Faumuina , 19. Patrick Tuipulotu , 20. Liam Messam, 21. TJ Perenara , 22. Colin Slade , 23. Ryan Crotty

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