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Rugby World Cup 2019 | All you need to know: All Blacks v Wales battle for bronze

NZ Herald

It’s the game no one wants to play; the ultimate Rugby World Cup booby prize, the bronze playoff match for third and fourth.

But, despite the agony of their semifinal defeat loss to England the night before, the All Blacks are intent of putting in a performance they can be proud of when they face Wales at Tokyo Stadium on Friday night. For several, including skipper Kieran Read and coach Steve Hansen, it will be the last time they are closely involved with the All Blacks.

“We’re playing, obviously, so we will treat it like any test match,” Read said. “It will be a bit different for us but we’ll prepare as well as we can and perform as best we can. We’re All Blacks so it’s a chance for us to pull on the jersey again.

“For some of us it may be our last chance. There are a few things there what we’ll work through this week and come Friday we’ll be ready to go.”

What was plainly obvious still was how much Read was still hurting from that 19-7 defeat at the hands of England.

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He was close to tears when describing how he returned to his hotel room to see cards sent by his children on the occasion of his 34th birthday, and Hansen was close to breaking too when asked who he rang from the side of the Yokohama Stadium pitch straight after the loss. It was his wife Natasha.

So getting up for this next challenge will be one of the toughest of their careers and several players not involved in the England loss will get a run; men such as Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty, along with Sonny Bill Williams, on the bench for the last two games here.

Hansen said it wasn’t for him to comment on whether the playoff for what is effectively second and third losers should be played. Like it or not, it’s a test, and he and his men still have a remarkable record to protect.

“The fact is the game’s there and the fact is we have to get up,” he said. “They’re the inconvenient facts. How do we do that? Well, we get connected again and set ourselves an immediate goal and work hard to make sure that we really enjoy this week. It will be the last week that this team is together and we have an opportunity to do it well.

“I know in talking to the boys we’ll get a response.”

Match details: Friday, November 1, 10pm (NZ time), Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo.

Referee: Wayne Barnes.

Squads:

All Blacks: 15. Beauden Barrett, 14. Ben Smith, 13. Ryan Crotty, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Rieko Ioane, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Kieran Read (c), 7. Sam Cane, 6. Shannon Frizell, 5. Scott Barrett, 4. Brodie Retallick, 3. Nepo Laulala, 2. Dane Coles, 1. Joe Moody

Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Atu Moli, 18. Angus Ta’avao, 19. Patrick Tuipulotu, 20. Matt Todd, 21. Brad Weber, 22. Anton Lienert-Brown, 23. Jordie Barrett

Wales: 15. Hallam Amos, 14. Owen Lane, 13. Jonathan Davies, 12. Owen Watkin, 11. Josh Adams, 10. Rhys Patchell, 9. Tomos Williams, 8. Ross Moriarty, 7. James Davies, 6. Justin Tipuric, 5. Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4. Adam Beard, 3. Dillon Lewis, 2. Ken Owens, 1. Nicky Smith

Reserves: 16. Elliot Dee, 17. Rhys Carre, 18. Wyn Jones, 19. Jake Ball, 20. Aaron Shingler, 21. Gareth Davies, 22. Dan Biggar, 23. Hadleigh Parkes

Head to head: The two sides have met 34 times, with New Zealand winning on 31 occasions. Wales have claimed only three victories – the last coming on 19 December 1953 in Cardiff.

Last five encounters

• 2017 – All Blacks 33, Wales 18
• 2016 – All Blacks 46, Wales 6
• 2016 – All Blacks 36, Wales 22
• 2016 – All Blacks 39, Wales 21
• 2014 – All Blacks 34, Wales 16

At the RWC

• 2003 Pool D – All Blacks 53, Wales 37
• 1995 Pool C – All Blacks 35, Wales 9
• 1987 semifinal – All Blacks 49, Wales 6

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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Rugby World Cup 2019 | All you need to know: All Blacks v Wales battle for bronze