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Read returns

Friday, June 20, 2014

HAMILTON, - Kieran Read returns to the All Blacks while boom centre Malakai Fekitoa will make his first start in the third and final Test against England.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has kept his starting changes to two as he targets victory in Hamilton on Saturday and a clean sweep of the series.

Rangy No.8 Read will make his first Test appearance since being crowned IRB world player of the year at the end of the All Blacks' perfect 2013 season.

Two head knocks reduced his involvement in Super Rugby, with the second on April 19 reducing him to just one appearance since for the Crusaders.

The 28-year-old has trained throughout the England series but the recurrence of concussion symptoms and subsequent concerns over his fitness prompted Hansen to leave him out.

Read's return sparks a loose forward shuffle, with Jerome Kaino shifting from No.8 to his preferred blindside flanker role, pushing Liam Messam to the reserves bench.

Tongan-born Fekitoa, 22, replaces veteran centre Conrad Smith, who fractured his thumb in the 28-27 win in Dunedin on Saturday.

Fekitoa wasn't needed off the bench in that game, having made his Test debut as a reserve the week before in the 20-15 win at Eden Park.

"Whilst we felt we improved from the first Test to the second, there are areas of our game we want to improve on and that has been the focus for us this week," he said.

ALL BLACKS: Ben Smith, Cory Jane, Malakai Fekitoa, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Tony Woodcock.

RESERVES: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Liam Messam, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty.

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