Sam Whitelock will captain the All Blacks against Wales in the absence of the injured Kieran Read on Saturday.
Coach Steve Hansen confirmed on Thursday that Read will miss the Test in Cardiff due to an injury. Read has been replaced by Luke Whitelock at No 8, while his brother Sam will take over the captaincy.
‘While it’s disappointing to not have “Reado” available, it’s a great opportunity to further grow the leadership of the team, and in this case, Sam Whitelock gets the opportunity to captain the side. On behalf of the team, we’d like to congratulate him on this special honour,’ said Hansen.
In other changes to the side, Liam Squire starts at openside flank ahead of Vaea Fifita. And lock Patrick Tuipulotu comes in for the injured Luke Romano, with Scott Barrett providing second-row cover off the bench.
All Blacks – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Samuel Whitelock (c) 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Kane Hames.
Subs: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images