All Blacks team named to play Wales     23 Nov 2012    

The team is as follows (with Test caps in brackets):

Starting XV:

1. Tony Woodcock (94)
2. Andrew Hore (73)
3. Owen Franks (43)
4. Luke Romano (9)
5. Samuel Whitelock (37)
6. Liam Messam (18)
7. Richie McCaw - captain (114)
8. Kieran Read (46)
9. Aaron Smith (11)
10. Daniel Carter (93)
11. Julian Savea (7)
12. Ma'a Nonu (74)
13. Conrad Smith (64)
14. Cory Jane (39)
15. Israel Dagg (23)


16. Dane Coles (2)
17. Wyatt Crockett (9)
18. Charlie Faumuina (5)
19. Brodie Retallick (11)
20. Victor Vito (18)
21. Piri Weepu (67)
22. Aaron Cruden (18)
23. Ben Smith (10)

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen and Assistant Coach Ian Foster have named a hugely experienced and in-form All Blacks side for the Welsh Test, with 745 caps in the starting XV and 140 on the eight-man bench.

In the forwards, props Tony Woodcock and Owen Franks and hooker Andrew Hore make up the front row; the locks are Samuel Whitelock and Luke Romano; with Liam Messam, All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw and Kieran Read the loose forward trio.

In the backs, Aaron Smith is at halfback, Daniel Carter returns to his number 10 jersey, with the All Blacks most successful midfield pairing of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith at second five-eighth and centre respectively. On the wings, Julian Savea gets his third successive start on Tour and will combine with wing Cory Jane and fullback Israel Dagg in the outside backs.

On the reserves bench, hooker Dane Coles keeps his bench spot, with Keven Mealamu carrying a calf injury, while Wyatt Crockett and Charlie Faumuina are the prop cover. Brodie Retallick is reserve lock with Victor Vito covering the loose forwards. The backs reserves are Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden and Ben Smith.

Together with Mealamu, two other players weren't considered for selection due to injury - Tamati Ellison (toe) and Beauden Barrett (ribs). Loose forward Adam Thomson was also withdrawn from consideration for the Test as the IRB has announced it is appealing the one-match suspension imposed last week, with the All Blacks coaches not wanting the appeal to affect his or the team's preparation.

Steve Hansen said: "We have always known this game will be a fiercely contested match. The Welsh team in the last 12 months have been Grand Slam winners and 2011 Rugby World Cup semifinalists and we have known since the World Cup that this would be the game that they would be targeting in this Autumn Series, so any recent performances or results won't have any bearing on this match.

"We are all excited by what comes with this challenge, along with the fact that we will be playing in one of the world's greatest rugby stadiums."

The All Blacks have played Wales 28 times since 1905 with 25 wins to the All Blacks and three to the Welsh. The All Blacks last played Wales on the 2010 end of year Tour winning that Test 37-25. The Welsh last beat the All Blacks in 1953, winning the Test in Cardiff 13-8.

Interesting facts

The All Blacks midfield partnership of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith now have a world record of 35 Test match wins - heading the 34 wins by English duo Jeremy Guscott and Will Carling. Nonu will play his 75th Test on the weekend and Smith his 65th.
The All Blacks have scored 44 tries this year and a total of 1698 tries in 496 Test matches.
All Blacks wing Julian Savea is the leading international try scorer this year with ten tries from seven tests.

All Blacks Air New Zealand European Tour match schedule

1. Scotland 22 All Blacks 51
2. Italy 10 All Blacks 42
3. Wales (Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, 5.15PM, Saturday 24 November)
4. England (Twickenham, London 2.30PM, Saturday 1 December)