23 Jun 2016

Dixon to make All Blacks debut

6:06 am on 23 June 2016

The Highlanders loosie Elliott Dixon will make his All Blacks debut against Wales in Dunedin on Saturday.

Elliot Dixon of the Highlanders.

Elliot Dixon of the Highlanders. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Dixon replaces Jerome Kaino at number six, while wing Julian Savea, first-five Beauden Barrett, centre George Moala and prop Charlie Faumuina all get starts.

There are two other possible new caps with prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi and loose forward Liam Squire named on the bench.

Squire goes into the matchday 23 for Ardie Savea as loose forward cover. Faumuina replaces Owen Franks in the number three jersey, with 24-year-old Tu'ungafasi coming into the 23.

In the backs, Barrett is at first five-eighth, replacing the injured Aaron Cruden, with Lima Sopoaga the 10 reserve; George Moala will start at centre in his second Test replacing the injured Malakai Fekitoa; and Julian Savea is back in the 11 jersey, with Waisake Naholo moving to the bench as outside back cover.

New All Black Liam Squire.

New All Black Liam Squire. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

In other changes, Codie Taylor has been named at replacement hooker, Luke Romano comes in as lock cover and Tawera Kerr-Barlow is the replacement halfback.

It will be a special night also for lock Brodie Retallick and Aaron Smith, who will play their 50th Tests for the All Blacks. The pair made their Test debuts against Ireland in June 2012.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said selectors had had to take into consideration the need to find out more about the squad.

"With the series won, it came down to risk and reward and we felt the rewards of seeing these new players in the Test arena, after watching them for three weeks on the training pitch, outweighed any risks.

"It'll be exciting to see these new players making their mark for the first time in the black jersey.

"That said, we're expecting another brutal Test match, with the expectation that Wales will again chuck the kitchen sink at us. We've seen over the last two Tests that they're a very good side who play physical, combative and innovative rugby. Our own expectations are as high as ever and we'll be looking for continued improvement right across our game.

"We have a further two players playing their 50th Test this weekend. On behalf of the team, we would like to congratulate Aaron and Brodie on reaching this special milestone and they can be rightly proud of everything they have achieved so far in the black jersey."

Commenting on the Test match atmosphere in Dunedin, Hansen added: "Playing here in Dunedin is always something special because of the enclosed stadium. There's no need to worry about the weather and it's always a hard and fast pitch, while the proximity of the crowd also creates an awesome atmosphere."

The matchday 23 is:

1. Joe Moody (13)

2. Dane Coles (38)

3. Charlie Faumuina (35)

4. Brodie Retallick (49)

5. Samuel Whitelock (74)

6. Elliot Dixon

7. Sam Cane (33)

8. Kieran Read - captain (86)

9. Aaron Smith (49)

10. Beauden Barrett (38)

11. Julian Savea (42)

12. Ryan Crotty (17)

13. George Moala (1)

14. Ben Smith (50)

15. Israel Dagg (50)

16. Codie Taylor (4)

17. Wyatt Crockett (47)

18. Ofa Tu'ungafasi

19. Luke Romano (23)

20. Liam Squire

21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (20)

22. Lima Sopoaga (1)

23. Waisake Naholo (5)

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