All Blacks move on to Cardiff to face the passionate Welsh

All Blacks move on to Cardiff to face the passionate Welsh

The All Blacks will be looking to kick off this last leg of what has been a difficult season by throwing down a significant marker to all opposition when they face Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.


The All Blacks’ season hitherto has been a tumultuous one, to say the least. A maiden home-series loss to the spirited Irish heralded raucous calls for the heads of Ian Foster and Sam Cane in the run-up to a poor display in Nelspruit against the Springboks which saw the latter prance to a 16-point victory, which only intensified the voices against the All Black Head Coach and captain.


However, through a great show of fortitude and courage, the All Blacks managed to pull off a revered victory over the Boks at Ellis Park just one week later, thus relieving a debilitating amount of pressure which had been thudded down on their collective shoulders.


One more bout of disappointment was in store, however, as Los Pumas romped to victory for the first time on New Zealand soil, but it wasn’t enough to stop the All Blacks on their path to the Rugby Championship title.


Last weekend, the All Blacks kicked off their campaign against a Japanese outfit who were determined to be taken seriously:




For this weekend’s clash, the All Black coaching staff rung the changes to the group that did duty against Japan.


After providing opportunities to build depth and experience in last week’s win over Japan, selectors have returned to some key combinations used in Test against Australia at Eden Park. Jordie Barrett has again been given the nod at second-five eighths, joining centre Rieko Ioane in the midfield. David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown will provide cover.


Aaron Smith returns to the number nine jersey, inside first-five eighths Richie Mo’unga, with Beauden Barrett named at fullback. Caleb Clarke and Sevu Reece retain their spots on the wing. The front row of Ethan de Groot, Codie Taylor and Tyrel Lomax is reunited in a tight five that has also welcomed back the fit-again Scott Barrett. He is partnered at lock by captain Samuel Whitelock.


Completing the forward pack, is the loose forward trio of Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali’i and Shannon Frizell.


Aaron Smith is set to surpass Dan Carter as the most capped back in All Blacks history, playing his 113th Test. Reserve prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi is in line to earn his 50th international cap.


Providing cover at halfback, Brad Weber is set for his first international appearance of the 2022 season.



“Playing Wales on the road always represents an exciting challenge,” head coach Ian Foster said. “We have a number of players returning to the side and we know we will need to play with a high intensity against this physical Welsh team.



“Last year the roof at Principality Stadium was open due to Covid regulations but this time it will be closed. That will ensure an amazing atmosphere for fans and players.”


 New Zealand


In the Wales camp, Dragons flyer Rio Dyer will make his test debut against the All Blacks while the experienced heads of Justin Tipuric, Ken Owens, Leigh Halfpenny, and George North all make their return to test rugby.


Captain Justin Tipuric is selected at blindside flanker, returning to the Wales XV for the first time since the 2021 Guinness Six Nations match against France. He is joined in the starting line-up by Ken Owens (hooker) and Leigh Halfpenny (fullback), who will also make their first appearances for Wales in over a year.



Gareth Anscombe is at fly half, having worn the number 10 jersey in the same fixture last year. Tomos Williams returns to the starting XV at scrum half.


Dragons’ winger Rio Dyer will win his first senior international cap on Saturday, becoming the 1,180th Wales men’s international when he takes to the pitch. Louis Rees-Zammit is also named on the wing.


George North and Nick Tompkins partner in the centre for the fourth consecutive match. Alongside captain Tipuric in the Wales back row are openside flanker Tommy Reffell and No 8 Taulupe Faletau.


Gareth Thomas (loose head) and Tomas Francis (tight head) are the props while Adam Beard and Will Rowlands combine in the second row for the ninth time.



Among the replacements Ryan Elias, Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis provide the front row cover. Alun Wyn Jones and Christ Tshiunza are the other forwards in line to make an appearance from the bench. Kieran Hardy, Rhys Priestland and Owen Watkin round out the Wales match day squad.


Pivac said: “It’s great having Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric and Leigh Halfpenny back. They bring a lot of experience and they are big game players. Playing New Zealand doesn’t get much bigger so we’re really looking forward to having them back in the side.


“New Zealand is going to play with speed, we know that. The roof is closed so we’re looking forward to a fast, open game and I think Justin brings that extra bit of speed to the number six jersey. So the combination [of Tipuric, Reffell and Faletau] we think will work well.



“Rio has fitted in really well and really quickly. He’s thriving in this environment. He’s a young man that’s bringing some form with him into camp. He scored some great tries and he’s full of confidence. That means a lot to a young guy playing his first Test match in front of a big crowd. There’s no better way to start your career so we wish him well.



“It doesn’t get much bigger than Wales New Zealand. I remember coming to games prior to getting this role and a full house, the bands and pre-match is just fantastic.”


The last time the Welsh clashed with the All Blacks was just over a year ago, a result the former will be keen to redeem:

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