The All Blacks selectors have reverted to their best available side for Sunday morning’s test against Wales in Cardiff.
After providing opportunities to build depth and experience in last week’s win over Japan, selectors have returned to some key combinations used in the final Rugby Championship Test against Australia at Eden Park.
Captain Sam Cane and hooker Dane Coles returned to New Zealand with injuries following the game in Tokyo, while lock Brodie Retallick is suspended.
Jordie Barrett has again been given the nod at second-five eighths, joining centre Rieko Ioane in the midfield. David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown will provide cover.
Aaron Smith returns to the number nine jersey, inside first-five eighths Richie Mo’unga, with Beauden Barrett named at fullback. Caleb Clarke and Sevu Reece retain their spots on the wing.
The front row of Ethan de Groot, Codie Taylor and Tyrel Lomax is reunited in a tight five that has also welcomed back the fit-again Scott Barrett. He is partnered at lock by captain Samuel Whitelock.
Completing the forward pack, is the loose forward trio of Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali’i and Shannon Frizell.
Aaron Smith is set to surpass Dan Carter as the most capped back in All Blacks history, playing his 113th Test. Reserve prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi is in line to earn his 50th international cap.
Providing cover at halfback, Brad Weber is set for his first international appearance of the 2022 season.
“Playing Wales on the road always represents an exciting challenge,” head coach Ian Foster said. “We have a number of players returning to the side and we know we will need to play with a high intensity against this physical Welsh team.
“Last year the roof at Principality Stadium was open due to Covid regulations but this time it will be closed. That will ensure an amazing atmosphere for fans and players.”
Foster has also confirmed that winger Will Jordan will not take part on this tour due to a persisting vestibular issue.
Match day 23 (Test caps in brackets):
1. Ethan de Groot (10)
2. Codie Taylor (73)
3. Tyrel Lomax (21)
4. Samuel Whitelock (140 – captain)
5. Scott Barrett (55)
6. Shannon Frizell (22)
7. Dalton Papali’i (19)
8. Ardie Savea (67)
9. Aaron Smith (112)
10. Richie Mo’unga (42)
11. Caleb Clarke (12)
12. Jordie Barrett (45)
13. Rieko Ioane (56)
14. Sevu Reece (22)
15. Beauden Barrett (109)
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho (18)
17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (49)
18. Fletcher Newell (4)
19. Tupou Vaa’i (16)
20. Akira Ioane (19)
21. Brad Weber (17)
22. David Havili (22)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (57)
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz