Hansen hopes overhauled NZ have the goods

Steve Hansen will hope he has struck a balance between development and performance when the All Blacks’ proud record goes on the line against Wales for a third time.

New Zealand may have already clinched the three-match series but a loss to the doughty tourists in Dunedin on Saturday would sting mightily – ending a 28-Test winning trot since 1953.

It’s why coach Hansen acknowledges the risk in overhauling his team.

The forward pack still has a tough edge despite the resting of Jerome Kaino and Owen Franks to hand a debut to home home-town favourite Elliot Dixon on the blindside flank and a rare start to prop Charlie Faumuina.

In the engine room, Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock become the most capped All Blacks locking combination in history while captain Kieran Read is in rare form at No.8.

It’s a new-look bench and the questionable form of several starting backs which may creak if the heat goes on under Dunedin’s roof.

Hurricanes game-breakers Beauden Barrett and Julian Savea get reprieves.

Super sub Barrett’s handful of previous Test starts at five-eighth have been nothing memorable while Hansen is taking a punt that Savea will bust out of a form slump.

Ryan Crotty hasn’t set the world alight at inside centre but even interest will focus on Blues powerhouse George Moala, who was a surprise pick at outside centre replacing Malakai Fekitoa.

Hansen confirmed Sonny Bill Williams will be included in the Rugby Championship squad when his sevens commitments finish, leaving a maximum of three midfield spots vacant.

With Charlie Ngatai also a likely pick when he recovers from concussion, Moala must prove he has the subtlety in his game to match his proven muscle.

The 25-year-old must also defend accurately against a Wales team likely to maintain their expansive approach.

Hansen says Moala had returned to his best in recent months under the guidance of Blues coach Tana Umaga after going off the boil following his lone Test against Samoa in Apia a year ago.

“Like a lot of young players, you’re really desperate to get another (Test) opportunity and you over-try a bit,” he said.

“I think George has over-tried for the Blues this year and it’s taken a while for Tana to get him to relax and start playing with confidence.”

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