19 Jun 2014

Fekitoa gets first start for the All Blacks

5:53 am on 19 June 2014

The Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa's fairytale season continues with the 22-year-old named to make his first start for the All Blacks in Saturday's third and final test against England in Hamilton.

Fekitoa replaces the injured Conrad Smith at centre, while last year's International Player of the Year Kieran Read returns to the side for the first time in 2014 after overcoming concussion and conditioning issues to take his place in the starting XV.

Read will pack down in his favoured number eight position, pushing Jerome Kaino to blindside and Liam Messam to the bench.

Israel Dagg's knee injury saves coach Steve Hansen a tough decision with last weekend's man of the match Ben Smith retaining the fullback jersey.

Hansen has also resisted the temptation to start Beauden Barrett at first-five, with Aaron Cruden hanging on to the number 10 spot.

Richie McCaw will captain the All Blacks for the 90th time this weekend and joins Sean Fitzpatrick on 128 games for New Zealand, second equal behind Colin Meads' 133.

Starting XV:

1. Tony Woodcock (109)

2. Dane Coles (17)

3. Owen Franks (56)

4. Brodie Retallick (26)

5. Samuel Whitelock (53)

6. Jerome Kaino (50)

7. Richie McCaw - captain (126)

8. Kieran Read (61)

9. Aaron Smith (28)

10. Aaron Cruden (31)

11. Julian Savea (21)

12. Ma'a Nonu (90)

13. Malakai Fekitoa (1)

14. Cory Jane (47)

15. Ben Smith (28)


16. Keven Mealamu (112)

17. Wyatt Crockett (26)

18. Charlie Faumuina (19)

19. Patrick Tuipulotu (1)

20. Liam Messam (31)

21. TJ Perenara (2)

22. Beauden Barrett (18)

23. Ryan Crotty (5)