New Zealand recall stars for Wales clash
New Zealand head coach Ian Foster has welcomed back several of the All Blacks’ star names to face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
Foster makes wholesale changes from the team that beat Japan last weekend, including starts for the likes of Beauden Barrett, his brother Jordie and Aaron Smith.
It will be Smith’s 113th Test match appearance, taking him above former fly-half Dan Carter as New Zealand’s most capped back.
Sam Whitelock captains the side due to Sam Cane suffering a tour-ending injury in Japan, with Scott Barrett partnering Whitelock in the second-row following Brodie Retallick’s suspension.
There are just three changes from the line-up that defeated Rugby Championship opponents Australia 40-14 in Auckland almost six weeks ago.
Wing Will Jordan, Retallick and flanker Akira Ioane all drop out of the starting XV.
Foster revealed that prolific try-scorer Jordan will play no part in the northern hemisphere tour due to a “persisting vestibular (balance) issue”.
Foster added: “Playing Wales on the road always represents an exciting challenge.
“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. It will ensure an amazing atmosphere for fans and players.”
New Zealand have won their last 32 Tests against Wales, not losing in the fixture since December 1953.
Team: B Barrett; S Reece, R Ioane, J Barrett, C Clarke; R Mo’unga, A Smith; E de Groot, C Taylor, T Lomax, S Whitelock (capt), S Barrett, S Frizell, D Papali’i, A Savea.
Replacements: S Taukei’aho, O Tu’ungafasi, F Newell, T Vaa’i, A Ioane, B Weber, D Havili, A Lienert-Brown.
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