Wellington - Aaron Cruden has won the battle for the coveted All Blacks' 10 jersey as New Zealand bank on experience for the first Test against Wales in Auckland on Saturday.
But the 27-year-old has been warned not to feel too comfortable steering the World Champions as Beauden Barrett and Lima Sopoaga remain in the mix to succeed champion backline general Dan Carter.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen named a Test side Thursday stacked with 720 Tests caps and to be captained by backrower Kieran Read who takes over from Richie McCaw who, like Carter, retired from Test rugby after winning the 2015 World Cup.
The only uncapped players in the match-day squad of 23 are flanker Ardie Savea and centre Seta Tamanivalu, who are set to make their Test debuts off the bench.
Wales, who last beat the All Blacks 63 years ago, were hoping for a change of fortune with the absence of Carter, rugby's most prolific Test points scorer.
Instead, they find New Zealand has three players already with international experience, battling to take his place.
"It's pretty special, isn't it, that one player has gone who has been there for a long time and you have got three players who have all been there before and all three are playing well," All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said.
Cruden has already been the All Blacks starting fly-half in 23 of his 37 Tests but missed last year's World Cup because of a knee injury.
Barrett, who has only started six of his 36 Tests while developing a reputation as an effective impact player, has been named in the replacements while the one-Test Sopoaga does not make the squad.
But Foster hinted there would be changes at fly-half as the three-Test series unfolded.
"We want all three working hard together because we are going to have to grow that group because we know we are going to need all three at some point," he said.
For the first Test, Ryan Crotty and Malakai Fekitoa fill the centres in place of the departed Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith while Waisake Naholo joins Julian Savea on the wings.
Joe Moody is preferred over Wyatt Crockett to start at loosehead prop and Nathan Harris has been named as the reserve hooker ahead of Codie Taylor with Dane Coles starting in the middle of the front row.
The All Blacks lost three of the first four Tests they played against Wales, the last time being a 13-8 defeat at Cardiff Arms Park in 1953, and they have won all 26 clashes since then.
15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea; 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino; 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano; 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Seta Tamanivalu
15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13
Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys
Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn
Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins
16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jake Ball, 20
Ellis Jenkins, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Scott Williams