It’s ideal preparation for number eight Read, who will take over the role when McCaw when takes six months rest next year.
“He’s done a lot of it for the Crusaders. He’s a genuine leader,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said in Stuff.co.nz.
“He’s been a leader of the forwards and line-out for some time now. It comes naturally to him. Obviously he’s not the finished product at this level but he’ll grow over time into a very good captain.”
Chiefs’ Sam Cane will take over McCaw’s openside flanker role in his second test start – the first was in a 60-nil flogging of Ireland in June. He’ll be alongside returning blindside Liam Messam.
“We’ve already seen enough from Sam Cane to know he’s made for test rugby,” Hansen said. “This game is about giving him another opportunity to get some experience and learn it’s not always going to be an easy ride.”
With McCaw enjoying a week in Rome, Dan Carter will be on the bench so Aaron Cruden can have crack at leading the backs.
Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith return after Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith were injured in last week’s romp against Scotland.
This is how the All Blacks will line-up: Beauden Barrett, Hosea Gear, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden. Aaron Smith. Kieran Read, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Ali Williams, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. On the bench: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Sam Whitelock, Victor Vito, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Dan Carter, Cory Jane.
Images via Getty