Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks ring changes for third-fourth playoff against Wales

The All Blacks have made several squad changes for their bronze medal match at the Rugby World Cup against Wales on Friday.

A total of eight new faces will take the field in Tokyo, as the New Zealanders look to restore some pride following their semi-final demoiltion at the hands of England last weekend.

Departing veterans Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty return to the starting side, while Rieko Ioane slips back into the No.11 jersey.

It will be just the second start of the tournament for Smith in what will be his final test for New Zealand, before he heads to French club Pau.

Sonny Bill Williams moves off the bench to partner Crotty in the midfield, with Anton Lienert-Brown set to play off the pine.

In the forwards, Scott Barrett shifts into his regular role at lock alongside Retallick, with Joe Moody, Dane Coles, and Nepo Laulala comprising the rest of the tight five.

Stand-out flanker Ardie Savea has been left out of the squad, likely as a result of the knee injury sustained in the semi-final loss.

Shannon Frizell slots in as Savea's replacement, alongside Sam Cane and captain Kieran Read.

On the bench, Brad Weber claims TJ Perenara's back-up halfback position. Matt Todd returns from injury to cover loose forward, with Atu Moli and Angus Ta'avao the impact props.

Liam Coltman is the second-string hooker, favoured over Codie Taylor.

Coach Steve Hansen said it was a "tough" side to select, and dismissed any suggestion of a dead rubber.

"With a short turnaround and the nature of the tournament," said Hansen. "We feel that this is the right team for this occasion.

"There's been alot of external talk around this being the game that no one wants to play. However, from our point of view, we can’t wait to play it.

"Everyone in the squad − players and management − are motivated by the opportunity to show that our last performance wasn’t at the high standard that we know we can play at."

Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks ring changes for third-fourth playoff against Wales

Further to Smith, it will also be the final test match for Hansen and his longtime skipper Kieran Read, who'll join Crusaders teammate Crotty in Japan next year.

Alongside the desire to send them off on a high note, is the importance of showing the black jersey the respect it deserves after the disappointment of their semi-final loss, said Hansen.

"Whilst none of us – players, management or fans − got the result we wanted at this tournament, this is another opportunity for us to wear the jersey and represent our country with pride. 

"This is a test match against an opposition that will also be keen to make a statement. Therefore, we will need to turn up with real attitude, intent and work ethic, and then execute our skillsets to the highest level possible."

Join us for live updates of All Blacks v Wales from 10pm Friday

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