All Blacks go to Cardiff knowing Wales will up game

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 11:43pm


All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named his strongest starting line-up for tomorrow's one-off test against Wales, restoring skipper Richie McCaw and star flyhalf Dan Carter to the side.

After experimenting in the first two tests of the tour to give all of his 32-man squad a run, Hansen opted to take no chances against an out-of-form Wales desperate to redeem themselves by downing the world champions.

"We have always known that this game will be a fiercely contested match ... we have known since the World Cup that this would be the the game they would be targeting in this series," Hansen said.

"So any recent performances or results won't have any bearing on this match."

McCaw, rested for last week's 42-10 win over Italy, takes the captain's armband back from Kieran Read, while Carter replaces understudy Aaron Cruden at No 10 after warming the bench in Rome.

In all, there are nine changes from the side who defeated Italy with Tony Woodcock the only survivor in a revamped tight five featuring Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Luke Romano and Sam Whitelock.

Liam Messam was retained as blindside flanker over Adam Thomson, whose one-match ban for stamping on Alasdair Strokosch in a 51-22 win over Scotland is being appealed by the International Rugby Board as "unduly lenient".

Hansen said he did not want the appeal to disrupt the team's preparation. Hansen will stick with the experienced pairing of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.