Bronze final won't be a Barbarian-style match as both coaches target a farewell win

Bronze final won't be a Barbarian-style match as both coaches target a farewell win

Both coaches have made numerous changes their teams, but the All Blacks will be outright favourites to extend their unbeaten run of 31 wins since 1953 in the third-place play-off against Wales in the Tokyo Stadium on Friday (11:00).

The All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says goodbye after overseeing 93 wins in 107 tests with only ten losses and four draws spoiling his record since succeeding Graham Henry in 2011. He also won the World Cup in 2015 and the Rugby Championship six times since then.

Both coaches, Hansen and Wales coach Warren Gatland, are in their last match in charge of the two semi-final losers that saw Hansen’s All Blacks lose 7-19 to England while Gatland’s Wales went down 16-19 to South Africa.

Both are New Zealanders, and Hansen also coached Wales. In fact, he was Wales coach when the two countries last played one another in the RWC in 2003.

What will be special for both is a win where some of the greats of the last 10 years or so say farewell to test rugby.

All Blacks Kieran Read, Sonny Bill Williams, Ben Smith, Matt Todd and Ryan Crotty, among others, get a last look-in at this level.

For Wales the farewell to their leader, Alun Wyn Jones, is a huge goodbye to one of their very, very best as player and leader.

Many might be hoping saying there’s not a lot on it and the teams could throw the ball around. But it won’t be a Barbarian-style match, or that is at least not what the two coaches set out to achieve.

“I think there is a lot on it. For them, it would be like winning the World Cup if they win this one, maybe,” said Hansen. And Gatland admits that it would be great to sign off against the only side he didn’t beat during his 150 matches in charge at Wales.

However, even with nine changes to the New Zealand starting side and eight by Wales, the odds will be with the current World Champions who will be officially unseated on Saturday.

Teams –

All Blacks
15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Jordie Barrett.

15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 James Davies, 6 Justin Tipuric, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Nicky Smith. Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Wyn Jones, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Hadleigh Parkes.