Captain Read reaches half-century

Wed, 12 Jun 2013 18:20
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Eighthman Kieran Read will reach 50 Test caps when he leads the All Blacks out in their 500th Test against France in Christchurch on Saturday.

Eighthman Kieran Read will reach 50 Test caps when he leads the All Blacks out in their 500th Test against France in Christchurch on Saturday.

All Black head coach Steve Hansen has named the same starting XV that played in last week’s 23-13 first up victory over the French at Eden Park for the milestone match.
There are three changes on the bench, with the experienced Andrew Hore - set to play in his 75th Test - and Tony Woodcock making their returns to the Test arena replacing Keven Mealamu and last week’s Test debutant Ben Afeaki respectively, while scrumhalf Piri Weepu comes in for Tawera Kerr–Barlow.
Hansen said the team’s focus this week had been on continuing to bed in the team gameplan, getting players clearer with their roles and working on the details within those roles.
“Clearly, there has also been a lot of work done on how we are going to approach the breakdown and I’m sure we will see an improvement there. Overall, we have had a good week’s preparation. It’s now about putting that preparation and hard work into a performance on the track that we can all be proud of.
“The French, however, may have their own ideas about that and one pleasing aspect from last week’s Test is that we have been left with no uncertainty just how tough this weekend’s Test will be. They have laid down the challenge to us that we will have to be at our very best to beat them.”

The New Zealand Rugby Union announced the remaining two Test matches against the French have sold out, which means the All Blacks will have played all their June Test matches in front of capacity crowds with Eden Park selling out at 46,000 last weekend, 21,000 set for Christchurch this weekend, and 23,400 in New Plymouth next weekend.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew welcomed the news of the sell-out fixtures as a great celebration of rugby.

“We are delighted that all three Test matches have sold out as this reinforces the support out there for rugby.  We know that the All Blacks love running out in front of a full house, so this is fantastic news for the team, and for everyone getting behind them this weekend, and the next.”

The All Blacks have played France 52 times since 1906, with 39 wins to the All Blacks, 12 wins to France and the one draw. The French last played the All Blacks in Christchurch in 2003, with the All Blacks winning 31-23.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg. 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain) 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Rene Ranger.

Date: Saturday, June 15
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19.35 (09.35 French time; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), tba (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)