All Blacks host whānau day in Hamilton

By Jamie Wall
All Blacks captain Kieran Read - Photo / File

Some of the senior All Blacks had cause to reflect on the fact that this will be their last game for the side in Aotearoa. Chief among them is captain Kieran Read, who will end his test career after the World Cup. The team enjoyed the company of partners and tamariki out on the field as they prepared to face Tonga at FMG Stadium Waikato, which Read says will be a tough assignment.

“We’re expecting a lot [from the Tongans]. They’ve played a number of games already this year and they’ve improved each time. We know their support will be strong tomorrow.”

The stadium was the venue of the Tongan red tide that crashed over the Rugby League World Cup in 2017, in which a stacked Mate Ma’a Tonga side upset the Kiwis and eventually reached the semi-finals of the tournament.

The All Blacks could potentially feature one debutant tomorrow, which first five Josh Ioane set to come off the bench. Read said his rookie pivot had been nervous during the week, but the team was ready to support him when he enters the game.

This will be the last test before the All Blacks leave for Japan next week, to attempt to defend their world champion status for an unprecedented third time.

All Black side to play Tonga, 2:30pm kickoff, FMG Stadium Waikato:

The 23 is as follows (with Test caps in brackets, * is uncapped):

1. Joe Moody (40)

2. Codie Taylor (44)

3. Nepo Laulala (19)

4. Patrick Tuipulotu (24)

5. Samuel Whitelock (111)

6. Ardie Savea (38)

7. Matt Todd (20)

8. Kieran Read - captain (121)

9. TJ Perenara (58)

10. Beauden Barrett (77)

11. George Bridge (4)

12. Ryan Crotty (44)

13. Anton Lienert-Brown (37)

14. Sevu Reece (2)

15. Ben Smith (79)

16. Liam Coltman (5)

17. Ofa Tuungafasi (29)

18. Angus Ta'avao (7)

19. Scott Barrett (30)

20. Luke Jacobson (1)

21. Aaron Smith (86)

22. Josh Ioane *

23. Jordie Barrett (11)