All Blacks team named for first Test
allblacks.com 22 Jun 2017 Getty Images
The match day 23 for the first Test of the DHL New Zealand Lions Series is (with Test caps in brackets):
1. Joe Moody (25)
2. Codie Taylor (16)
3. Owen Franks (91)
4. Brodie Retallick (61)
5. Samuel Whitelock (85)
6. Jerome Kaino (78)
7. Sam Cane (41)
8. Kieran Read (97) - Captain
9. Aaron Smith (59)
10. Beauden Barrett (50)
11. Rieko Ioane (2)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (34)
13. Ryan Crotty (26)
14. Israel Dagg (62)
15. Ben Smith (61)
16. Nathan Harris (5)
17. Wyatt Crockett (59)
18. Charlie Faumuina (47)
19. Scott Barrett (5)
20. Ardie Savea (13)
21. TJ Perenara (30)
22. Aaron Cruden (47) / Lima Sopoaga (7)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (10)
The matchday 23 sees the return of captain Kieran Read with Ardie Savea moving to the bench. Rieko Ioane has been named on the left wing replacing Julian Savea in what will be Ioane's first start in his third Test.
It will also be Ioane's third time facing the Lions in this year's DHL New Zealand Lions Series. Ryan Crotty returns from injury and has been named at centre, with Anton Lienert-Brown moving to the bench.
Meanwhile, first five-eighth Aaron Cruden and Lima Sopoaga have been bracketed as first-five cover, with a decision to be made tomorrow.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "This was a really tough team to pick because there were a number of players in great form vying for positions. But in the end the three selectors felt this was the best combination to take on the Lions in the first Test.
Hansen added it was great to have Read and Crotty back.
"They've both been on target to return for this game all the way through, are both in great shape and, together with the rest of the squad, they're really excited at what's ahead of us.
"I'd also like to congratulate Rieko on getting his first start for the All Blacks. His outstanding form throughout the season this year, including against the Lions, has earned him his start on the wing."
Hansen said there was a massive amount of excitement within the team.
"There's a real understanding that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The players are well aware of the history of the All Blacks and the Lions and are determined to respect that history with their performances.
"We know this is a very good British and Irish Lions team; probably one of the best to have toured here. It'll be a battle of contrasting styles which makes it an intriguing Test to prepare for and to be part of. We know the importance of this match and we will bring real energy and intensity. It'll be a physical Test but, just as importantly, it will be a mental test.
"There will be a unique and electric atmosphere at Eden Park on Saturday night. It's something we're really looking forward to and we can't wait."
* The DHL New Zealand Lions Series is the 12th tour to New Zealand by the Lions. The first game was in 1904. The teams have played 38 Test matches. The All Blacks have won 29 of those matches.
* The most recent Lions Test was at Eden Park on July 9th 2005 where the All Blacks won 38-15.
* The All Blacks last weekend became the first team to reach 15,000 Test points in the team's 553rd Test. (15,002). France is second on 13,450 points.
* Beauden Barrett has now scored 321 points in Test matches and is fifth on the all-time All Blacks list. Aaron Cruden is fourth on 322 points. The top three are pretty well-known names: Carter, Mehrtens and Fox.
* Owen Franks will become the ninth most capped All Blacks in his 92nd Test on Saturday, equal to All Blacks great Sean Fitzpatrick.
The #AllBlacks are getting to work ahead of the first Test against @lionsofficial this Saturday. #LionsNZ2017 ?????? pic.twitter.com/Wu8H45okpg— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) June 21, 2017