Read returns to captain All Blacks


Kieran Read returns from injury to captain the All Blacks in their first Test of the series against the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on Saturday.

The Crusaders No. 8 last played more than seven weeks ago, when he suffered a broken thumb while on Super Rugby duty, but he is fit again to pack down in the All Blacks’ backrow alongside Jerome Kaino and Sam Cane as New Zealand look to extend their long unbeaten run at Eden Park.

Twenty-year-old Rieko Ioane makes an unexpected first start as he comes in on the left wing to replace Julian Savea, while Israel Dagg gets the nod ahead of Waisake Naholo.

With Ryan Crotty back from injury, he replaces Anton Lienert-Brown at centre, the latter moving to the bench.

A final decision of which of Aaron Cruden and Lima Sopoaga is retained as first-five cover will be made on Thursday.

All Blacks: B Smith, Dagg, Crotty, Williams, Ioane, B Barrett, A Smith; Moody, Taylor, Franks, Retallick, Whitelock, Kaino, Cane, Read (capt).

Replacements: Harris, Crockett, Faumuina, S Barrett, A Savea, Perenara, Cruden/Sopoaga, Lienert-Brown.