New Zealand v Italy, Rome, November 17
Read to skipper All Blacks against Italy
November 15, 2012
Kieran Read will captain the All Blacks for the first time against the Azzurri © Getty Images
Kieran Read will captain New Zealand for the first time when they tackle Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday.
The No.8, who will be playing his 46th Test, is handed the honour with regular skipper Richie McCaw rested for the All Blacks' second end of year our outing following their victory over Scotland last weekend.
The line-up features 14 changes to the side that swept the Scots aside at Murrayfield with Read taking Victor Vito's spot at the back of the scrum, Sam Cane stepping in for McCaw and Liam Messam replacing the suspended Adam Thomson at blindside. In the front row, Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and Charlie Faumuina come in for Wyatt Crockett, Andrew Hore and Owen Franks respectively.
Ali Williams is promoted from the bench to the second row and will partner Brodie Retallick with Luke Romano and Sam Whitelock making way. Scrum-half Aaron Smith and fly-half Aaron Cruden will look to pull the strings having been handed the playmaking duties instead of Piri Weepu and Dan Carter.
The All Blacks' most experienced midfield pairing, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith return with Ben Smith (cheek) and Tamati Ellison (toe) both sitting out. Hosea Gear is named on the right wing instead of Cory Jane, Julian Savea gets a second start on the left, with Beauden Barrett at fullback.
Head coach Steve Hansen was pleased with his start's tour opener but insists there are plenty of areas for improvement. "The team last week put a stake in the ground and, while the performance was nowhere near perfect, there was some quality rugby played. There is now an opportunity for this group to build on that."
Hansen is also expecting a rough ride against Italy having been held to a 20-6 victory on their last visit to the country. They are renowned for their forward play so they will certainly be up for the challenge and we will have to match that physicality," he said.
New Zealand: Beauden Barrett; Hosea Gear, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumuina, Ali Williams, Brodie Retallick, Liam Messam, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (capt)
Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Samuel Whitelock, Victor Vito, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Daniel Carter, Cory Jane
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.