Beauden Barrett can again provide the spark to inspire the All Blacks to a 3-0 series win over Wales in Dunedin on Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Barrett has been outstanding as a replacement over the first two Tests, seamlessly slotting in for Aaron Cruden at flyhalf and providing an often much-needed impact.
With Cruden now unavailable due to a neck injury, Barrett will have a rare opportunity to start at pivot and stake a real claim to retain the No 10 jersey going forward.
Offering deceptive pace and impressive distribution, Barrett will look to bring dangerous backs such as George Moala, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg and Julian Savea into play.
Speaking of Savea, it's also an important opportunity for the big winger to bounce back from the poor first Test showing that subsequently saw him dropped from the match 23.
Coach Steve Hansen has spoken of the need for the big back to regain some confidence, and there's no doubt he'll come out with a serious point to prove, while looking to inject himself into action as much as possible.
With the series already wrapped up, Hansen has opted to have a look at some other squad members, with the uncapped Elliot Dixon picked to start at blindside flank, while prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi and loose forward Liam Squire could also make their debuts off the bench.
Despite the changes, the All Blacks should still be far too strong for the Welsh, but one should also not lose sight of the fact that the visitors have proven to be competitive for extended periods in both Tests.
Their focus will be on replicating this over 80 minutes, while cutting out the soft moments that have enabled the All Blacks to effectively seal the result with second-half flourishes.
Wales have made a couple of changes up front as props Tomas Francis and Rob Evans come in, with the latter set to scrum down opposite the powerful Charlie Faumuina, who slots in at tighthead in one of five changes to the All Blacks’ starting lineup.
There is an element of experimentation to the All Blacks squad that has been selected for Saturday’s encounter, but it’s hard to see them battling to bank another win against a gallant but ultimately inferior Welsh side.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: All Blacks 29, Wales 3
In New Zealand: All Blacks 9, Wales 0
All Blacks – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 George Moala, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Waisake Naholo.
Wales – 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans.
Subs: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Scott Williams.
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Andrew Lees (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images