Read returns, Ioane starts for All Blacks

Kieran Read will captain the All Blacks as Rieko Ioane starts on the left wing for Saturday's first Test against the British and Irish Lions.

The matchday 23 sees the return of captain Read with Ardie Savea moving to the bench. Ioane has been named on the left wing replacing Julian Savea in what will be Ioane's first start in his third Test. 

It will also be Ioane's third time facing the Lions in this year's Lions series. Ryan Crotty returns from injury and has been named at centre, with Anton Lienert-Brown moving to the bench.

Meanwhile, fly-half Aaron Cruden and Lima Sopoaga have been bracketed as first-five cover, with a decision to be made on Friday.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said: "This was a really tough team to pick because there were a number of players in great form vying for positions. But in the end the three selectors felt this was the best combination to take on the Lions in the first Test.

Hansen added it was great to have Read and Crotty back.

"They've both been on target to return for this game all the way through, are both in great shape and, together with the rest of the squad, they're really excited at what's ahead of us."I'd also like to congratulate Rieko on getting his first start for the All Blacks. His outstanding form throughout the season this year, including against the Lions, has earned him his start on the wing."

Hansen said there was a massive amount of excitement within the team.

"There's a real understanding that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The players are well aware of the history of the All Blacks and the Lions and are determined to respect that history with their performances.

"We know this is a very good British and Irish Lions team; probably one of the best to have toured here. It'll be a battle of contrasting styles which makes it an intriguing Test to prepare for and to be part of. We know the importance of this match and we will bring real energy and intensity. It'll be a physical Test but, just as importantly, it will be a mental test.

"There will be a unique and electric atmosphere at Eden Park on Saturday night. It's something we're really looking forward to and we can't wait."

New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden/Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

Date: Saturday, June 24
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Jérôme Garcès (France)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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