Rugby union: Beaten All Blacks change 12 for Italy

Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand on Nov 5, 2016 in Chicago.
Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand on Nov 5, 2016 in Chicago. PHOTO: AFP

ROME (AFP) - The All Blacks have made 12 changes to their starting line-up for Saturday's rugby union Test against Italy in Rome, with flanker Sam Cane named as captain.

Coach Steve Hansen stuck with his original plan of fielding younger players for the clash at Stadio Olimpico, despite last week's chastening 40-29 defeat by Ireland in Chicago.

Regular captain and No. 8 Kieran Read has been rested, as Steven Luatua returns to the side after a two-year absence.

"There were always going to be changes. It's that time of year where if we don't make changes we were going to run out of petrol. It's an opportunity for some people to tell us what they've got at this level," Hansen had said after the defeat in Chicago.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow starts at scrum-half after impressing for the Maori All Blacks against the US Eagles in Chicago, with Anton Lienert-Brown and Malakai Fekitoa coming into midfield.

Debuts could be made by hooker Liam Coltman and wing Rieko Ioane, who have been named on the replacements bench.

Last week's loss was New Zealand's first to Ireland in 111 years of matches, and ended their record run of 18 straight Test victories.

New Zealand team to face Italy (15-1) Damian McKenzie; Israel Dagg, Malaki Fekitoa, Anton Lienert-Brown, Waisake Naholo; Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Steven Luatua, Sam Cane (capt), Elliot Dixon; Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu; Charlie Faumuina, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crocket. Replacements: Liam Coltman, Joe Moody, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Matt Todd, Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Rieko Ioane.