Topic: Rugby

ABs team named: Hansen backs Read despite criticism

By Jamie Wall

All Black coach Steve Hansen has backed his skipper Kieran Read, saying at the team naming for the test against Italy today that "he's got all the respect in the world from the team."

Speaking to the New Zealand media today in Rome, Hansen says that scrutiny was part of being an All Black.

"If you're in the All Black environment you're going to be scrutinised.  You'll have your turn in the sun but you'll also have your turn in the rain and people are going to have plenty to say...he's well supported and his position is not under threat."

Hansen has predictably changed up the starting XV from the one that went down 16-9 to Ireland last weekend.  Jordie and Scott Barrett will start on the wing and at lock respectively, while TJ Perenara gets a start at halfback. Dalton Papalii comes onto the bench for his potential second cap, while Ngani Laumape gets a chance to push his case with a start at second five.

The Italians will look to frustrate the All Blacks, much like they did last week against the Wallabies. While they lost 26-7, it was clear that they gave the Australians a few headaches across the park.

All Black side to play Italy in Rome, 3am Sunday morning NZT:

1. Ofa Tuungafasi, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Patrick Tuipolotu, 5. Scott Barrett, 6. Vaea Fifita, 7. Ardie Savea, 8 Kieran Read (c), 9. TJ Perenara, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Waisake Naholo, 12. Ngani Laumape, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 14. Jordie Barrett, 15. Damian McKenzie.

Bench: 16. Nathan Harris, 17. Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18, Angus Ta'avao, 19. Brodie Retallick, 20. Dalton Papalii, 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22. Richie Mo'unga. 23. Rieko Ioane.