New Zealand v England: Kieran Read to return for final Test
New Zealand v England: Kieran Read will return for to action for the third and final Test on Saturday
Crusaders No8 Kieran Read will return for to action with New Zealand for their third and final Test against England on Saturday.
The 28-year-old IRB player of the year 2013 has sufficiently recovered from concussion-related issues which kept him sidelined for five weeks before a short-lived return against Western Force at the end of May and subsequently ruled him out of the first two Tests.
The All Blacks boast a 2-0 lead over England in the Steinlager Series and can whitewash Stuart Lancaster’s men with a win in Hamilton.
To accommodate Read’s return, versatile Blues back-rower Jerome Kaino switches to the blindside forcing Liam Messam’s demotion to the bench as captain Richie McCaw continues as the openside flanker.
We are looking forward to producing a quality performance that we can all be proud of
The only other change to Steve Hansen’s team from a 28-27 win in Dunedin sees Highlanders’ rising star Malakai Fekitoa win his first start, coming in at outside centre for Conrad Smith, who misses out with a broken thumb.
“Whilst we felt we improved from the first Test to the second, there are areas of our game we want to improve on and that has been the focus for us this week,” said Hansen.
“We enjoy playing in Hamilton and in front of a sold-out Waikato Stadium we are looking forward to producing a quality performance that we can all be proud of.”
The All Blacks could equal a record 17 consecutive Test wins jointly held by the 1965-69 All Blacks and 1997-98 Springboks if they can overcome England again, but failed at their last attempt against Australia in Brisbane two years ago.
New Zealand: Ben Smith; Cory Jane, Malakai Fekitoa, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Save; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Tony Woodcock, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read.
Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Liam Messam, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty.