Read out for All Blacks with back injury

All Blacks captain Kieran Read’s hopes of playing against Wales this weekend were dashed by a back injury suffered on Thursday.

Veteran lock Sam Whitelock will be captain for the first time, while his brother Luke takes over the No.8 duties.

The younger sibling’s introduction for his first Test start is one of three changes to the side which ran out for the 22-17 win over Scotland on Saturday.

Liam Squire replaces Vaea Fifita on the blindside flank while Patrick Tuipulotu takes over from the injured Luke Romano (foot) at lock. Tuipulotu’s promotion leaves Scott Barrett on the bench.

While 109-Test veteran Read’s absence will be keenly felt, his loss is effectively countered by the availability of Rieko Ioane.

The world-class winger was ruled out last Sunday because of a shoulder joint injury suffered during his stand-out performance at Murrayfield.

A rapid recovery and a problem-free training session on Thursday gave 20-year-old Ioane an unexpected green light.

Coach Steve Hansen was philosophical about the loss of Read, which caps a season dominated by injuries.

“Whilst it’s disappointing to lose your leader and a guy who’s played 100-odd Test matches, you can’t do anything about it so there’s no need for me to sit here and get all emotional,” Hansen said.

“And whilst you’re disappointed not to have Reado, we’re pretty excited to have Rieko so it emotionally levels out the whole plane really. It’s quite good.”

Read’s back tweak is believed to be related to the hip flexor problem he has carried for much of the European tour.

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