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ABs spring surprise for Canada

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All Blacks spring playmaking surprise for Canada clash

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has sprung a surprise in his side to face Canada in Oita on Wednesday, with both Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett retained at No. 10 and 15 for the side’s second clash of the World Cup.

It had previously been speculated that youngster Jordie Barrett would take the playmaking reins as many had thought that Hansen wouldn’t want to risk injuring his only two premier playmakers against a minnow such as Canada, especially with their fixture against Namibia coming just four days later.

However, both Mo’unga and the older Barrett have been named, with the younger Barrett brother coming into the team on the right wing in place of Sevu Reece as one of 11 changes from the side that dispatched South Africa in Yokohama nine days ago.

He accompanies Rieko Ioane as the two wingers, with both 22-year-olds set to make their World Cup debuts alongside midfielder Jack Goodhue.

Ioane’s inclusion comes after the youngster was omitted from the All Blacks’ last three tests following the All Blacks’ Bledisloe Cup defeat to the Wallabies in Perth last month, and has struggled to find a way back into the side due to the ultra-hot form of George Bridge.

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His naming on the left wing for this match, though, provides the 26-test star with a springboard to help rediscover the sort of form that made him a World Player of the Year nominee in 2017 and 2018.

Goodhue, meanwhile, will make his first outing in a black jersey since that defeat in Western Australia, with the midfielder forced from the field early in that clash with a hamstring niggle.

He will join forces with veteran second-five Sonny Bill Williams in the middle of the backline, with Ryan Crotty set to provide cover from the bench, while TJ Perenara’s addition at halfback in place of Aaron Smith presents the only other change between 9-15.

Brad Weber will be the reserve halfback in just his third test, and Ben Smith will provide valuable experience from the No. 23 jersey.

In the forward pack, captain Kieran Read and Scott Barrett are the only players who have survived from the 23-13 victory over the Springboks.

There is an entirely new front row, with Atu Moli and Liam Coltman set to earn their first test starts at loosehead prop and hooker.

Angus Ta’avao comes in at tighthead, demoting Nepo Laulala to the bench alongside Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Codie Taylor.

Lock Patrick Tuipulotu, blindside flanker Shannon Frizell and openside Matt Todd will also enjoy rare starts as they push first-choice stars Sam Whitelock and Ardie Savea into the reserves.

In naming the team, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said: “Our aim is to win the next two pool matches against Canada and Namibia, as well as continuing to grow our game and manage the workload across the group.

“With two games four days apart, it’s obvious that we need to use our whole squad.

“Whilst there’s a huge amount of energy and excitement amongst the whole team about what lies ahead, this week there has been a real focus on ourselves and our own standards.

“We’ve been working hard.  We know we have to keep growing our game. We’ve always been demanding of ourselves when it comes to continued improvement, and that will never change.  By doing so, it allows us to have the right attitude, intent and execution.

“When it comes to our preparation, it should never be about who we are playing, but how we are preparing individually and as a team, both mentally and physically. By doing this, it means you always respect your opponent and the jersey.”

Hansen added: “We are looking forward to the contest with Canada. We know they’re a proud nation who are led by Tyler Ardron, a player who we respect and know very well from his time in New Zealand with the Chiefs.

“We are sure his attitude of not taking a backward step will be reflected throughout the whole team.  That means we need to impose ourselves on the game from the very start.”

The match day 23 is as follows (with test caps in brackets):

1: Atu Moli (2)
2: Liam Coltman (6)
3: Angus Ta’avao (9)
4: Patrick Tuipulotu (26)
5: Scott Barrett (32)
6: Shannon Frizell (6)
7:Matt Todd (21)
8: Kieran Read – captain (123)
9: TJ Perenara (60)
10: Richie Mo’unga (13)
11: Rieko Ioane (26)
12: Sonny Bill Williams (54)
13: Jack Goodhue (9)
14: Jordie Barrett (12)
15: Beauden Barrett (79)

16: Codie Taylor (46)
17: Ofa Tuungafasi (31)
18: Nepo Laulala (21)
19: Samuel Whitelock (113)
20: Ardie Savea (40)
21: Brad Weber (2)
22: Ryan Crotty (46)
23: Ben Smith (81)

– Additional comments from New Zealand Rugby

On the ground before Wales vs Australia:

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All Blacks spring playmaking surprise for Canada clash