15 Nov 2012

Read named All Blacks captain

7:01 pm on 15 November 2012

The All Blacks No.8 Kieran Read will captain the side for the first time in this weekend's test against Italy in Rome.

Read will lead the side with regular captain Richie McCaw being rested.

Coach Steve Hansen has picked the side on the basis of giving all members of the squad some game time in their opening two tour matches.

The veteran lock Ali Williams gets his first test start in over a year having come on in his last six tests as a replacement.

His last start was against Canada at the World Cup last year.

Brodie Retallick is the other lock.

Joining Read in the loose forward trio are Liam Messam and Sam Cane.

The front row is Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and Charlie Faumuina.

The Manawatu combination of Aaron Smith and Aaron Cruden will start at halfback and first five with Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith paired in the midfield with Hosea Gear and Julian Savea on the wings and Beauden Barrett at fullback.

Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison and Israel Dagg weren't considered because of injury while Adam Thomson is suspended.

The All Blacks have played Italy 11 times and are unbeaten - although the Italians only lost the last encounter in Milan two years ago 20-6.