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Kieran Read to miss Wales test

By Ben Smith

The All Blacks have suffered a key blow ahead of their test against Wales, losing captain Kieran Read with a back injury. Read missed training earlier in the week before suffering a back strain in the Thursday session. His omission was confirmed when the team was named with Luke Whitelock at number 8.

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“It’s probably associated with [the hip flexor] … he’s bent over today and hurt it. He’s in his bed and not very mobile at the moment,” coach Steve Hansen said.

“Kieran is like everybody else — if you’re not available it’s an opportunity for someone else. It’s a big opportunity for Luke and a big opportunity for the team to do the job without him. Whilst it’s disappointing to lose your leader, you can’t do anything about it, so there’s no point in me sitting here getting all emotional about it.”

A surprise inclusion was star wing and World Player of the Year nominee Reiko Ioane, who was thought to be no chance of playing.

“I did say at the beginning of the week that Rieko wasn’t going to be playing. I don’t know what Doc’s done but he’s fixed him and he’s available. He had a scan on his shoulder early in the week, there was no damage, and through the week it’s just got better and better. We tested him today and he’s fine.”

With Read ruled out, Sam Whitelock will take over captaincy duties for the side over Beauden Barrett, who skippered the side against the Barbarians earlier in the tour.

Hansen said that call was simply a matter of common-sense. “While Beaudy enjoyed being the skipper he’d prefer to just concentrate on the role of being the driver. And we’ve got two guys in Cane and Whitelock who have captained their sides all year. It’s a big test match and you want people who have experience in that role.”

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All Blacks side for the Wales test:

Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Luke Whitelock, Sam Cane, Liam Squire, Sam Whitelock (capt), Patrick Tuipulotu, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Kane Hames. Reserves: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown.

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Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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