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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 18 April, 2019
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Cruden takes 10 shirt as All Blacks begin post-Carter and McCaw era

Ardie Savea and Seta Tamanivalu could make their debuts against Wales.

AARON CRUDEN HAS been handed New Zealand’s number 10 shirt for their first Test since the retirement of Dan Carter.

Meanwhile, Sam Cane takes over at openside flanker with Richie McCaw having hung up his boots.

Aaron Cruden Cruden missed last year's World Cup through injury. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Both selections were widely expected but the naming of Steve Hansen’s XV to face Wales on Saturday [KO 8.35am Irish time, Sky Sports 1] is nonetheless an exciting moment for New Zealand fans.

Ryan Crotty and Malakai Fekitoa are given first shot at nailing down the centre spots after the Test retirement of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, while Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Julian Savea make up a potent back three.

Captain Kieran Reid and Jerome Kaino complete the back row alongside Cane, while Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano form the lock pairing. Joe Moody, Dane Coles and Owen Franks make up the front row.

Hansen has selected an explosive bench, with Hurricanes openside Ardie Savea – brother of Julian – and Chiefs centre Seta Tamanivalu set for their debuts against the Welsh. Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett complete an impressive bunch of replacements.

“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,” said Hansen upon naming his match day 23.

Seta Tamanivalu fends the tackle of Paul Jordaan Tamanivalu is set for his debut off the bench. Source: Photosport/John Cowpland/INPHO

“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.

“On a personal note, we would also like to congratulate Alun Wyn Jones who looks set to play his 100th Test this weekend. It’s a fantastic achievement.”

Meanwhile, Warren Gatland has made five changes to the Wales team that was beaten by England last weekend with captain Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins, Ken Owens, Bradley Davies and Jonathan Davies coming in.

Back row Ellis Jenkins could make his debut off the bench, while New Zealand native and former Kiwi U20 international Gareth Anscombe is also among the replacements.

New Zealand:

15. Ben Smith
14. Waisake Naholo
13. Malakai Fekitoa
12. Ryan Crotty
11. Julian Savea
10. Aaron Cruden
9. Aaron Smith

1. Joe Moody
2. Dane Coles
3. Owen Franks
4. Luke Romano
5. Brodie Retallick
6. Jerome Kaino
7. Sam Cane
8. Kieran Read (captain)

Replacements:

16. Nathan Harris
17. Wyatt Crockett
18. Charlie Faumuina
19. Patrick Tuipulotu
20. Ardie Savea
21. TJ Perenara
22. Beauden Barrett
23. Seta Tamanivalu

Wales:

15. Liam Williams
14. George North
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Jamie Roberts
11. Hallam Amos
10. Dan Biggar
9. Rhys Webb

1. Gethin Jenkins
2. Ken Owens
3. Samson Lee
4. Bradley Davies
5. Alun Wyn Jones
6. Ross Moriarty
7. Sam Warburton (captain)
8. Taulupe Faletau

Replacements:

16. Scott Baldwin
17. Rob Evans
18. Tomas Francis
19. Jake Ball
20. Ellis Jenkins
21. Gareth Davies
22. Gareth Anscombe
23. Scott Williams

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Murray Kinsella

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