New Zealand will meet Wales in the Bronze Final at Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo on Friday, 1 November. Kickoff is at 18:00 local (05:00 ET). The match may be viewed in the U.S. on NBCSN or on-demand on NBC Sports Gold and in Canada on TSN 1 and 4.
Warren Gatland made nine changes for his final match as a head coach against New Zealand on Friday as Gatland ends his 12-year reign.
Injuries have forced Prop Tomas Francis (shoulder), winger George North (hamstring), flanker Aaron Wainwright (hamstring), and full-back Leigh Halfpenny (concussion) to miss the bronze medal match at Tokyo Stadium.
Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis start in the front row and join hooker, Ken Owens. Adam Beard returns to the starting line-up to partner captain Alun Wyn Jones who will make his 143rd test appearance, including the British and Irish Lions, taking him outright second on the all-time list. Only New Zealand’s Richie McCaw, with 148, is ahead of him.
James Davies comes into the back-row as a replacement for Wainwright alongside Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty.
Tomos Williams and Rhys Patchell are a new half-back combination for Wales, while Owen Watkin will be at center alongside Jonathan Davies.
Owen Lane is on the wing and Hallam Amos takes over at full-back with Halfpenny joining Liam Williams (ankle) on the injury list. Josh Adams, the leading try-scorer at RWC 2019, remains in the back three and will have started all of Wales’s seven games.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has made seven changes in his starters. Kieran Read, who at captain will gain his 127th cap, will lead New Zealand for his final time. Other All Blacks could be playing their final National team match as well.
Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty will start in their last games for their country. Sonny Bill Williams is also expected to be his farewell to international rugby union. Flanker Matt Todd, back after a shoulder injury, will be a reserve as he moves on from international test competition.
Read, Crotty and Todd will be playing club rugby in Japan and Smith is going to France to play in the Top 14 for Pau.
For Hansen, it will be in his 107th match as head coach of the All Blacks. He would like to win his farewell match and ensure the All Blacks’ 66-year winning streak against Wales continues.
Other changes have Rieko Ioane and Smith on the wings. The 33-year-old Smith has played most of his international career at full-back but has been selected on the wing for his 84th and last test cap, with Beauden Barrett, retained at full-back and Richie Mo’unga again at fly-half.
An injury to Ardie Savea in the back-row has given an opportunity to Shannon Frizell to earn the blindside start.
New Zealand: 1. Joe Moody 2. Dane Coles 3. Nepo Laulala 4. Brodie Retallick 5. Scott Barrett 6. Shannon Frizell 7. Sam Cane 8. Kieran Read (capt.) 9. Aaron Smith 10. Richie Mo’unga 11. Rieko Ioane 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Ryan Crotty 14. Ben Smith 15. Beauden Barrett 16. Liam Coltman 17. Atu Moli 18. Angus Ta’avao 19. Patrick Tuipulotu 20. Matt Todd 21. Brad Weber 22. Anton Lienert-Brown 23. Jordie Barrett
Wales: 1. Nicky Smith 2. Ken Owens 3. Dillon Lewis 4. Adam Beard 5. Alun Wyn Jones (capt.) 6. Justin Tipuric 7. James Davies 8. Ross Moriarty 9. Tomos Williams 10. Rhys Patchell 11. Josh Adams 12. Owen Watkin 13. Jonathan Davies 14. Owen Lane 15. Hallam Amos 16. Elliot Dee 17. Rhys Carre 18. Wyn Jones 19. Jake Ball 20. Aaron Shingler 21. Gareth Davies 22. Dan Biggar 23. Hadleigh Parkes
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistants Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Pascal Gaüzère (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
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