Wales have made nine changes for Friday night’s World Cup bronze medal match, which will mark Warren Gatland’s departure after 12 years in charge. The coach has kept a core of experience with Alun Wyn Jones leading the side on his 134th appearance for Wales, backed up by fellow Lions Jonathan Davies, Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty.
But players who have had a minor role at the tournament in Japan, such as Hallam Amos, Nicky Smith and James Davies, will also get an outing, along with Owen Lane who arrived last week as a replacement for Liam Williams.
Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953 and have lost all 11 Tests to the All Blacks since Gatland, who is returning home to coach the Chiefs after the tournament, took charge at the end of 2007.
New Zealand made eight changes from the side that was overwhelmed by England in last Saturday’s semi-final. Kieran Read leads the side from No 8 in his last Test while Ben Smith and Sonny Bill Williams will also have their final outings in the black jersey before moving to play abroad.
“It was a tough team to select because everyone wanted to play,” said the New Zealand head coach, Steve Hansen, who is in charge for the last time. “There has been a lot of external talk about this being a game no one wants, but we can’t wait to play it. Everyone, players and management, wants to show that our last performance was not at the high standard we know we can play at.
“This is a Test match against opponents who will be keen to make a statement. We will need attitude, intent and work ethic. It will be physical and fast and we are looking forward to it. It is another chance to wear the jersey and represent our country with pride.”
Wales: 15-Hallam Amos, 14-Owen Lane, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Owen Watkin, 11-Josh Adams, 10-Rhys Patchell, 9-Tomos Williams, 8-Ross Moriarty, 7-James Davies, 6-Justin Tipuric, 5-Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4-Adam Beard, 3-Dillon Lewis, 2-Ken Owens, 1-Nicky Smith. Replacements: 16-Elliot Dee, 17-Rhys Carre, 18-Wyn Jones, 19-Jake Ball, 20-Aaron Shingler, 21-Gareth Davies, 22-Dan Biggar, 23-Hadleigh Parkes.
New Zealand: 15-Beauden Barrett, 14-Ben Smith, 13-Ryan Crotty, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Rieko Ioane, 10-Richie Mo’unga, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Kieran Read (captain), 7-Sam Cane, 6-Shannon Frizell, 5-Scott Barrett, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Nepo Laulala, 2-Dane Coles, 1-Joe Moody. Replacements: 16-Liam Coltman, 17-Atu Moli, 18-Angus Ta’avao, 19-Patrick Tuipulotu, 20-Matt Todd, 21-Brad Weber, 22-Anton Lienert-Brown, 23-Jordie Barrett.