CARDIFF – Captain Kieran Read will miss the All Blacks’ final match of the season, a back injury ruling the 108-times capped forward out.
Read’s place will be taken by Luke Whitelock, with his brother Samuel skippering the side from lock ahead of normal vice-captain Beauden Barrett.
There is one other injury-enforced change to the match-day 23 which beat Scotland 22-17 last weekend, Patrick Tuipulotu coming in for Luke Romano in the second row.
Liam Squire will start at blindside flank, and lock Scott Barrett comes on to the bench.
“While it’s disappointing to not have ‘Reado’ available, it’s a great opportunity to further grow the leadership of the team and, in this case, Sam Whitelock gets the opportunity to captain the side,” All Black coach Steve Hansen said.
“On behalf of the team, we’d like to congratulate him on this special honour.
“With his brother Luke captaining the All Blacks against the French XV, it will create a unique, All Black family history, and one which their family can be proud of.”
Rieko Ioane, said Hansen, had made a miraculous recovery from a shoulder injury to be included on the wing, Waisake Naholo and Damian McKenzie packing out the back three.
Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty are in midfield outside Barrett and Aaron Smith at halfback.
Hansen, who coached Wales from 2002-04, warned that he had asked his team to go “bone deep” against the Welsh.
“There’s been a real energy and buzz in the team this week as we prepare for the Test against Wales,” Hansen said.
“The group has worked hard on its preparation, we’ve asked them to go bone deep and they’re looking to deliver a performance we can all be proud of.
“It’s always a pleasure to play in stadiums like the Millennium (Prinicipality). We experienced a magnificent atmosphere last week up in Murrayfield and are looking forward to a full house on Saturday.
“The Welsh are well known for their singing and that, in itself, creates something special.”
The All Blacks have played Wales 33 times since 1905, with 30 wins to the All Blacks and three wins to Wales.
New Zealand, however, are on a 29-match winning streak dating back to 1953.
All Black Team
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Samuel Whitlock (captain), 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Kane Hames.
Bench: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.