No. 8 Kieran Read will captain New Zealand’s top-ranked rugby team for the first time against Italy in two days as the All Blacks made 14 starting changes.
The 27-year-old Read, who’s played 45 Tests, replaces the rested Richie McCaw as skipper for the match in Rome, while Sam Cane takes over McCaw’s spot at open-side flanker.
Winger Julian Savea was the only starter retained from the world champion’s 51-22 win against Scotland in its tour opener four days ago. Backs Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison and Israel Dagg weren’t considered because of injuries, the New Zealand Rugby Union said.
NEW ZEALAND: Beauden Barrett, Hosea Gear, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Ali Williams, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Sam Whitelock, Victor Vito, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Dan Carter, Cory Jane.
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