3 new caps in All Blacks lineup for 3rd Wales test
New Zealand has named three uncapped players in its squad for the third rugby test against Wales at Dunedin on Saturday.
Elliot Dixon makes his test debut on the blindside flank, replacing Jerome Kaino, while his Highlanders teammate Liam Squire and Blues prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi are set for debuts from the bench.
Beauden Barrett will start at flyhalf in place of Aaron Cruden and Blues center George Moala will start his second test, displacing Malakai Fekitoa.
Julian Savea will replace Waisake Naholo on the left wing after being dropped for the second test because of poor form.
Charlie Faumuina will start at tighthead prop, replacing Owen Franks while Highlanders flyhalf Lima Sopoaga is in line to make his second test appearance off the bench.
Scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow replaces T.J. Perenara on the bench after recovering from a broken hand and Naholo has also been named as a reserve. Lock Luke Romano returns to the bench in place of Patrick Tuipulotu.
Israel Dagg remains at fullback after scoring a try in his 50th test in Wellington and Ben Smith stays on the right wing.
Lock Brodie Retallick and scrumhalf Aaron Smith will play their 50 tests after making their debuts in the same match against Ireland in 2012.
New Zealand leads the three-match series 2-0 after winning the first match at Auckland 39-21 and the second at Wellington 36-22. The All Blacks haven't lost to Wales since 1953.
Head coach Steve Hansen said he and fellow coaches Wayne Smith and Ian Foster were eager to test the depth of their squad by exposing new players to test rugby.
"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," Hansen said. "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.
Moala made his only previous test appearance against Samoa in June last year and replaces Fekitoa who suffered leg and head injuries in Wellington. He joins Ryan Crotty as the All Blacks continue to search for an effective midfield partnership after the retirements of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith after last year's World Cup.
Savea returns as the selectors work to repair his form and confidence after a poor season at test and Super Rugby level.
The 26-year-old Dixon will make his test debut on his home ground.
Meanwhile, Wales has made two changes to its second test lineup, both in the front row.
Props Tomas Francis and Rob Evans join the starting lineup in place of Samson Lee and Gethin Jenkins.
Francis, who has come off the bench in both of the first two tests, replaces Lee who drops to the reserves bench while Evans replaces Jenkins, who has returned home with a calf injury.
The rest of the pack and the backline is unchanged. Captain Sam Warburton will play his 50th international match as Wales captain.
"We have played some good rugby in the first two tests and we want to finish the tour on Saturday with an 80 minute performance that we are happy with," head coach Warren Gatland said.
"We improved going into the second test and fought to the end and this weekend we have to have the belief and confidence that we can take the victory."
New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, George Moala, Ryan Crotty, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Elliot Dixon, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.
Reserves: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Luke Romano, Liam Squire, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo.
Wales: Rhys Patchell, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Hallam Amos, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb, Taulupe Faletau, Sam Warburton (captain), Ross Moriarty, Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Tomas Francis, Ken Owens, Rob Evans.
Reserves: Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Ellis Jenkins, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Scott Williams.