Wales and New Zealand may have missed out reaching the World Cup final, but the chance to end the tenures of Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen will not serve for a hallow victory in the third-place play-off.
Both coaches have named their matchday squads for the final time, as they bring the curtain down on their esteemed Test careers their respective teams.
Gatland thanked Wales fans for welcoming him to the country, as he prepares to return home to New Zealand to coach the Chiefs before a third tour with the Lions in 2021.
“I would like to thank the Welsh public,” Gatland began.
“They have been challenging at times but they have made it worthwhile in terms of just how welcoming they have been to me in Wales. They have been so hospitable and it is really like a second home for me in Wales and I am going to miss being there.
“I think what Wales have given me is an opportunity and I’ve absolutely loved my time. We’ve been lucky enough to have had a lot of success.
“We’ve punched massively above our weight and success as a coach isn’t always about winning – I think it’s about overachieving as a team and I feel we’ve definitely done that. We’re a very small playing nation with a lot of history and the biggest memory I have is the smile we’ve put back on people’s faces to wear the red jersey again and to support the team.
“That makes a massive difference to the whole of Wales as they’re proud of the team and the players wear it with pride.”
Gatland has taken the opportunity to blood his team with some players who have grown to prominence at the Welsh regions over the past two seasons in Owen Lane and Tomos Williams. While James Davies and Owen Watkin are also handed starts.
The All Blacks will have Kieran Read, Ryan Crotty and Ben Smith take to the field one last time in Test rugby before they head overseas to play their club rugby in Japan and France, respectively.
And coach Hansen was dismissive of the team treating the third-place play-off with apathy.
“A lot of people might be saying there’s not a lot on it and they could throw the ball around.
“I think there is a lot on it. For them it would be like winning the World Cup if they win this one, maybe,” he said.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the team. We have to get on with it and hopefully show last week was a blip.”
Wales: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Tomos Williams; 1 Nicky Smith, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Dillon Lewis, 4 Adam Beard, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 6 Justin Tipuric, 7 James Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty
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
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith; 1 Joe Moody, 2 Dane Coles, 3 Nepo Laulala, 4 Brodie Retallick, 5 Sam Whitelock, 6 Shannon Frizell, 7 Sam Cane, 8 Kieran Read (capt)
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
Venue: Tokyo Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes (ENG)
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