Savea returns for All Blacks third clash with Wales

All Black winger Julian Savea powers past France fullback Scott Spedding

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has named his team to play Wales in the third and final Test with Julian Savea and Beauden Barrett returning to the starting line up at at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Hansen has named three new All Blacks in the matchday 23 with new cap All Black Elliot Dixon starting at blindside flanker, and two other possible new caps, prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi and loose forward Liam Squire, named on the bench.

Twenty-six-year-old Dixon comes in for Jerome Kaino on the side of the scrum, with Squire coming into the matchday 23 for Ardie Savea as loose forward cover.

Prop Charlie Faumuina replaces Owen Franks in the number three jersey, with 24-year-old Tu’ungafasi coming into the 23.

In the backs, Beauden Barrett is at first five-eighth, replacing the injured Aaron Cruden, with Lima Sopoaga the 10 reserve; George Moala will start at centre in his second Test replacing the injured Malakai Fekitoa; and Julian Savea is back in the 11 jersey, with Waisake Naholo moving to the bench as outside back cover.

In other changes to the matchday 23, Codie Taylor has been named at replacement hooker, Luke Romano comes in as lock cover and Tawera Kerr-Barlow is the replacement halfback.

It will be a special night also for lock Brodie Retallick and Aaron Smith, who will play their 50th Tests for the All Blacks. The pair made their Test debuts in the same Test, against Ireland in June 2012.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said, in selecting the side, the selectors had to take into consideration the need to find out more about the squad.

“With the Series won, it came down to risk and reward and we felt the rewards of seeing these new players in the Test arena, after watching them for three weeks on the training pitch, outweighed any risks. It’ll be exciting to see these new players making their mark for the first time in the black jersey.

“That said, we’re expecting another brutal Test match, with the expectation that Wales will again chuck the kitchen sink at us. We’ve seen over the last two Tests that they’re a very good side who play physical, combative and innovative rugby. Our own expectations are as high as ever and we’ll be looking for continued improvement right across our game.

“We have a further two players playing their 50th Test this weekend. On behalf of the team, we would like to congratulate Aaron and Brodie on reaching this special milestone and they can be rightly proud of everything they have achieved so far in the black jersey.”

Commenting on the Test match atmosphere in Dunedin, Hansen added: “Playing here in Dunedin is always something special because of the enclosed stadium. There’s no need to worry about the weather and it’s always a hard and fast pitch, while the proximity of the crowd also creates an awesome atmosphere.”

New Zealand

1. Joe Moody, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Charlie Faumuina , 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. Elliot Dixon 7. Sam Cane , 8. Kieran Read (c), 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Beauden Barrett , 11. Julian Savea , 12. Ryan Crotty , 13. George Moala (1) 14. Ben Smith (50) 15. Israel Dagg

Replacements : 16. Codie Taylor , 17. Wyatt Crockett , 18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi 19. Luke Romano , 20. Liam Squire, 21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow , 22. Lima Sopoaga , 23. Waisake Naholo

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