All Blacks bring in experienced reinforcements for Fiji clash
Ian Foster has made a handful of changes ahead of the All Blacks‘ second test against Fiji this weekend, re-introducing some key players to the mix including openside flanker Ardie Savea and centre Anton Lienert-Brown.
In the forwards, the starting front row is unchanged from last week’s win, with loosehead prop George Bower, hooker Codie Taylor and tighthead Nepo Laulala again supported by prop Ethan de Groot and hooker Dane Coles from the bench, with prop Angus Ta’avao also coming into the reserves.
In the loose forwards, alongside Savea, Akira Ioane gets his second start of the year in the No 6 jersey, with Luke Jacobson also returning to the starting lineup at number eight. Shannon Frizell is loose forward cover in the 20 jersey.
Savea hasn’t played a match since the Hurricanes’ final game of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season on June 11th due to a niggly leg injury. In his place, both Dalton Papalii and Blackadder have earned starts in the No 7 jersey due to the ongoing absence of captain Sam Cane.
Savea, however, looms as the obvious player to step into the openside flanker role while Cane remains on ice.
There are four changes to the backs and one jersey swap, with Richie Mo’unga brought in at No 10 and Lienert-Brown named outside David Havili in the midfield.
All in all, Foster has made eight positional changes to the starting lineup for what will be the All Blacks’ final hit-out before taking on the Wallabies in the opening Bledisloe Cup match early next month.
The returning Savea and Lienert-Brown will earn their 50th caps for New Zealand.
In last weekend’s match, Fiji were able to stay in touch with the home team until the final quarter, with the score eventually blowing out to 57-23 on the back of four tries to the All Blacks in the final 17 minutes.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 7:05pm NZT from FMG Stadium in Hamilton.
All Blacks: Damian McKenzie, Will Jordan, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Sevu Reece, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Luke Jacobson, Ardie Savea, Akira Ioane, Samuel Whitelock (c), Scott Barrett, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, George Bower. Reserves: Ethan de Groot, Dane Coles, Angus Ta’avao, Brodie Retallick, Shannon Frizell, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Rieko Ioane.
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