Uncapped duo Savea and Tamanivalu named in All Blacks side


Ardie Savea and Seta Tamanivalu could make their New Zealand debuts having been named as replacements for the first Test against Wales at Eden Park on Saturday.

Back-rower Savea, 22, was included in the party as an apprentice in the 2013 end-of-year tour, but could earn his first All Black cap having impressed for Hurricanes in Super Rugby this season. His brother, Julian, is in the starting XV.

Tamanivalu, a centre, has featured in all 12 of Chiefs' Super Rugby outings in 2016, scoring seven tries in the process.

The match will represent New Zealand's first Test since the World Cup final win over Australia last year and the subsequent international retirements of former captain Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Dan Carter and Keven Mealamu.

Head coach Steve Hansen does not believe the loss of such key figures makes the All Blacks weaker.

"Whilst the opposition might believe that we're vulnerable because it's our first Test and we have lost some experienced players, we don't have that mindset," he said.

"We have some very excited players who have trained well during the week and are getting the opportunity to make a statement about who they are and what the All Blacks jersey means to them.

"We're well aware that this is a good Welsh team and not one that we'll underestimate and we're looking forward to the challenge that comes with playing Test match football, which involves high-pressure moments and huge physicality."

Aaron Cruden has won the battle for the number 10 shirt vacated by Carter, while Kieran Read will captain his country for the 10th time.


New Zealand: Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Ryan Crotty, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Brodie Retallick, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (captain).

Replacements: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Seta Tamanivalu.