Auckland, July 7, 2017
The All Blacks team to play the third and DHL New Zealand Lions Series-deciding Test against the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park, Auckland tomorrow (Saturday, July 8) has been named.
The match Day 23 for the Test (with Test caps in brackets) is
1. Joe Moody (27) 2. Codie Taylor (18) 3. Owen Franks (93) 4. Brodie Retallick (63) 5. Samuel Whitelock (87) 6. Jerome Kaino (80) 7. Sam Cane (43) 8. Kieran Read (99) – Captain 9. Aaron Smith (61) 10. Beauden Barrett (52) 11. Julian Savea (53) 12. Ngani Laumape (1) 13. Anton Lienert-Brown (12) 14. Israel Dagg (64) 15. Jordie Barrett (1) 16. Nathan Harris (7) 17. Wyatt Crockett (61) 18. Charlie Faumuina (49) 19. Scott Barrett (7) 20. Ardie Savea (15) 21. TJ Perenara (32) 22. Aaron Cruden (49) 23. Malakai Fekitoa (23).
Shifts and moves
The match day squad sees 20-year-old outside back Jordie Barrett named at fullback for his first Test start in his second Test, with Israel Dagg moving to the right wing, and Julian Savea returning on the left wing. Ngani Laumape starts in the number 12 jersey, while Malakai Fekitoa, who was called into the squad this week, has been named in the match day 23 as midfield cover.
The third and deciding Test in the DHL New Zealand Lions Series will be a special milestone for a number of players.
Hundred for Kieran Read
Captain Kieran Read will play his 100th Test match and 25th as captain, after making his Test debut in 2008, and he will become the seventh All Blacks centurion after Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Daniel Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Mils Muliaina. Aaron Cruden and Charlie Faumuina are also expected to play their 50th Test matches from the bench.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "Firstly, on behalf of the All Blacks and all of New Zealand, I would like to congratulate ‘Reado’ (Kieran Read) on reaching the milestone of 100 Test matches.
It is a special achievement to play just one Test, so to play 100 is a remarkable effort. His playing ability speaks for itself and inspires others, and he now joins a unique group of special All Blacks. We’d also like to congratulate Jordie on making his first Test start in what will be a very memorable occasion for him.
Winner takes it all
"This final match in the DHL New Zealand Lions Series is going to be a cracker. It is the Series we expected it to be, as the Lions have quality players. It now comes down to this Saturday – the winner takes all – and that’ll create its own unique pressures and it’s going to be interesting to see how both sides cope with it.
"We have had a good week of preparation and are very excited by the opportunity that’s ahead of us, and I’m sure the Lions are as well. We know it’ll be a physical and intense match, but just as importantly, it’ll be a game where both teams will have moments of momentum, and the ability of everyone to adapt and adjust throughout the 80 minutes will be crucial."
The DHL New Zealand Lions Series is the 13th tour to New Zealand by the Lions. The first game between the Lions and the All Blacks was in 1904. The teams have played 40 Test matches. The All Blacks have won 30 of those matches.
Last weekend, Beauden Barrett became the first player in history to kick seven penalty goals in a match against the Lions. The 21 points scored by Barrett is the third most by any player in a match against the Lions.
With 22 wins from 24 Tests as captain, Kieran Read has the highest winning record in the world of any captain with more than 20 Tests – at 91 percent.
Sheevas Dayal is our Rugby Correspondent