Read, Crotty return for All Blacks

Kieran Read will captain the All Blacks in the first Test against the British & Irish Lions in Auckland on Saturday.

The No 8 has recovered from a thumb injury and replaces Ardie Savea, who moves to the bench.

Meanwhile, Rieko Ioane will make his first Test start in three matches, on the left wing, at the expense of Julian Savea, with Ryan Crotty at 13 having recovered from a rib injury.

Aaron Cruden and Lima Sopoaga have been bracketed as flyhalf cover, with a decision to be made on Friday.

'This was a really tough team to pick because there were a number of players in great form vying for positions,' said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. 'But in the end the three selectors felt this was the best combination to take on the Lions in the first Test.

Hansen added it was great to have Read and Crotty back.

'They’ve both been on target to return for this game all the way through, are both in great shape and, together with the rest of the squad, they’re really excited at what’s ahead of us.

'I’d also like to congratulate Rieko on getting his first start for the All Blacks. His outstanding form throughout the season this year, including against the Lions, has earned him his start on the wing.'

All Blacks – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden/Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.

Lions team

Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt