New Zealand v Wales: Risk and reward for All Blacks, says Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen
Steve Hansen has coached New Zealand since 2012

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen says it is a risk changing 12 players in his match-day 23 for Saturday's final Test against Wales, but that the long-term benefits will make it worthwhile.

The All Blacks have made five changes to their XV with debutant Elliott Dixon replacing Jerome Kaino at flanker and George Moala starting at centre.

Wales are targeting a first win since 1953 against the world champions, who have a decisive 2-0 series lead.

"[It's] risk and reward," said Hansen.

"But are the rewards worthy of making the changes? Of course they are because we trust the players that are coming in. They've trained well."

Moala, 25, replaces the injured Malakai Fekitoa and forms a new midfield partnership with Ryan Crotty.

Prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi and back-rower Liam Squire could also make their debuts off a bench which contains five players who have five caps or less.

But with the series wrapped up, former Wales coach Hansen says it is time to see what some of the less experienced members of his squad can offer.

"We need to find out if they are going to be good enough for us going forward," Hansen continued.

"We think they are, otherwise we wouldn't have put them out there, but the proof is always in the eating of a good pudding."

Moving on from the World Cup

Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg scored New Zealand's first try in their series-winning second Test against Wales

Hansen's side are going through a rebuilding phase with their squad for Wales' tour, missing nine of their 2015 World Cup final winners.

Captain Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith are among those who have quit Test rugby, but the All Blacks have shown there is life after them with a 39-21 win over Wales at Eden Park and a 36-22 victory in Wellington.

New Zealand scored 10 tries in those two games and at times blew Wales away in scintillating fashion.

Wales, who have made two changes to their side, have lost 28 consecutive games against the All Blacks and are still looking for a first win over the Kiwis on their own soil.

But Hansen, who coached Wales between 2002 and 2004, still expects a tough contest in Dunedin.

"We've won the series fine, but we're still expecting a really brutal Test match and Wales are talking about winning it and we want to win it," he said.

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