The All Blacks have been dealt a late blow just hours before Bledisloe Cup IV kick-off, with lock Patrick Tuipulotu ruled out of the match due to illness.
In a statement released on social media, the All Blacks confirmed that Tuipulotu, who was named on the bench for the match in Brisbane, has been replaced in the match day side by two-test youngster Tupou Vaa’i.
“All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu is ill and has been withdrawn from today’s Brisbane test against the Wallabies,” the statement read.
“He has been replaced on the bench in the 19 jersey by Tupou Vaa’i.”
UPDATE: All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu is ill and has been withdrawn from today’s Brisbane Test against the Wallabies. He has been replaced on the bench in the 19 jersey by Tupou Vaa’i. #AUSvNZL pic.twitter.com/x9h1DMI8s7
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 7, 2020
The addition of Vaa’i in match day squad gives the All Blacks a very youthful reserves list, with the 20-year-old accompanied by three debutants in the form of Asafo Aumua, Cullen Grace and Will Jordan.
The remainder of the All Blacks bench consists of the likes of two-test loosehead prop Alex Hodgman, three-test tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax, five-test halfback Brad Weber and 25-test utility back Damian McKenzie.
Should he make it onto the field, the test will be Vaa’i’s third as an All Black, after having come off the bench for his test debut in the 16-all draw with the Wallabies in Wellington last month, before starting in the 27-7 win in Auckland a week later.
After having travelled from Sydney to Brisbane for the test earlier today, the All Blacks and Wallabies are expected to kick the match off at 6:45pm local time.
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