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All Blacks welcome back departing veterans for Wales third-and-fourth play-off clash

The All Blacks have overhauled their side from the team that was defeated 19-7 by England in the World Cup semi-final, making a total of eight changes to their starting side for their third-and-fourth play-off with Wales in Tokyo on Friday.

Outgoing All Blacks stars Kieran Read, Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty and Ben Smith have all be given the chance to sign off their test careers on a positive note, with the latter three having missed the England clash in Yokohama last week.

They replace Anton Lienert-Brown, who has been demoted to the bench, Jack Goodhue and Sevu Reece.

Wing George Bridge has also failed to make the cut, as Rieko Ioane returns to the side for the first time since the All Blacks’ 71-9 thrashing on Namibia in pool play earlier this month.

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In the forwards, Dane Coles replaces Codie Taylor, who is omitted from the match day squad entirely as Liam Coltman takes his place in the reserves.

The same can be said of Sam Whitelock and Ardie Savea, both of whom aren’t on the team sheet, effectively ending their seasons for 2019.

Replacing them in the starting XV is Shannon Frizell and Sam Cane, with Scott Barrett shifting back to lock to accomodate for the two flankers.

On the bench, Matt Todd returns from injury to join Coltman, Lienert-Brown, Atu Moli and Bred Weber as the new faces on the bench.

Moli’s and Weber’s inclusions also means the season has come to a close for Ofa Tu’ungafasi and TJ Perenara, who both started from the bench in last week’s loss.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said: “This was a tough team to select because, as always, everyone wanted to play. But with a short turnaround and the nature of the tournament, we feel that this is the right team for this occasion.

“There’s been a lot of external talk around this being the game that no one wants to play. However, from our point of view, we can’t wait to play it.

“Everyone in the squad – players and management – are motivated by the opportunity to show that our last performance wasn’t at the high standard that we know we can play at.

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“This is a test match against an opposition that will also be keen to make a statement. Therefore, we will need to turn up with real attitude, intent and work ethic, and then execute our skill sets to the highest level possible.

“The game will be physical and fast as both teams will look to play to their strengths. We are looking forward to it and can’t wait.

“Whilst none of us – players, management or fans – got the result we wanted at this tournament, this is another opportunity for us to wear the jersey and represent our country with pride.

“On behalf of the All Blacks, we’d like to thank our fans for all their ongoing, unconditional support.  It’s something that we never take for granted and is greatly appreciated by us all within the team.”

All Blacks team to face Wales in Tokyo on Friday:

1. Joe Moody (44)
2. Dane Coles (68)
3. Nepo Laulala (24)
4. Brodie Retallick (80)
5. Scott Barrett (35)
6. Shannon Frizell (8)
7. Sam Cane (67)
8. Kieran Read – captain (126)
9. Aaron Smith (91)
10. Richie Mo’unga (16)
11. Rieko Ioane (28)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (56)
13. Ryan Crotty (47)
14. Ben Smith (83)
15. Beauden Barrett (82)

Reserves:

16. Liam Coltman (7)
17. Atu Moli (7)
18. Angus Ta’avao (13)
19. Patrick Tuipulotu (29)
20. Matt Todd (24)
21. Brad Weber (4)
22. Anton Lienert-Brown (41)
23. Jordie Barrett (16)

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All Blacks welcome back departing veterans for Wales third-and-fourth play-off clash