Read to lead All Blacks for last time in bronze game v Wales
TOKYO (AP) — Kieran Read, Sonny Bill Williams and Ben Smith will get their farewell tests in All Blacks jerseys in a reshuffled New Zealand squad to play Wales in the third-place playoff at the Rugby World Cup.
The All Blacks were on track for a third consecutive title until a semifinal loss last weekend to England relegated them to the bronze match on Friday.
Read, who will be playing his 127th and last test, will lead the All Blacks for the 52nd time, second only to Richie McCaw.
"Everyone wanted to play," said New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, who will be in charge of the All Blacks for the last time. "There's been a lot of external talk around this being the game that no one wants to play. However, from our point of view, we can't wait to play it."
Hansen said all his players were motivated to show the 19-7 loss to an inspired England lineup wasn't up to New Zealand's high standards.
"This is a test match against an opposition that will be keen to make a statement," Hansen said. "We need to turn up with real attitude, intent and work ethic."
The All Blacks have won 31 of the 34 tests between the nations, including all three previous matches at the World Cup.
Hansen was Wales coach in 2003 when New Zealand won the World Cup pool-stage game. New Zealander Warren Gatland has coached Wales for 12 years and never had a win over the All Blacks, a streak he's desperate to end before he returns to New Zealand to guide the Chiefs in Super Rugby.
Again all three Barrett brothers are in the squad, with Beauden Barrett again starting at fullback, Scott moving from the blindside flank to the second row, and Jordie starting on the bench. Beauden Barrett still start with 644 points in tests, one behind the great Grant Fox at No. 2 on New Zealand's all-time list.
Sam Cane will start on the openside and Shannon Frizell on the blind in a backrow combination with Read, with Ardie Savea not included in the match-day 23.
Dane Coles will start at hooker for his 69th test. In a backline featuring four changes to the semifinal starters, Williams and Ryan Crotty will form a veteran midfield combination and Rieko Ioane and Ben Smith will start on the wings.
New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Keiran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Shannon Frizell, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Dane Coles, Joe Moody. Reserves: Liam Coltman, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Matt Todd, Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jordie Barrett.