Hardly has there been a dull moment around the All Blacks this season, and that theme continues into the final test of the year with three significant starting changes and a new captain in Cardiff.
Sam Whitelock will lead the All Blacks for the first time after Kieran Read succumbed to a troublesome hip flexor issue that has plagued him for the past two weeks. In other news, Rieko Ioane has made a surprise recovery.
Fake brains reek off from starched white chef’s hat of Mitchell Drummond, and artificial blood stains doused on the front of his shirt as a secret tactic to be released against the All Blacks were exposed in London.
Just over a week later the halfback wore clobber more conventional for the debrief of another pre-game – except this was before his first appearance for the All Blacks against a French XV in their midweek match in Lyon.
The All Blacks and their coach, Steve Hansen, have been overlooked at next week’s New Zealand Rugby awards for the big prizes.
And is not the only one facing this, there was also no place for Beauden Barrett also among the player of the year contenders, despite that fact that he has taken home the men’s player of the year award at World Rugby’s awards earlier this week.
The All Blacks team has hobbled across the finish line of the taxing season, defeating the aggressive Wales with the score 33-18 in Cardiff.
A team that misses half of their lineup who were their first-choice outplayed for a long period but remained resilient in defense and more clinical finishing proved the team’s difference as they finished their European tour with the record of perfect five-from-five.