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All Blacks XV named to play Japan

By Ian Cameron
New Zealand's Akira Ioane (C) celebrates his try with teammates Aaron Smith (L) and Samuel Whitelock during the third rugby Test match between New Zealand and Ireland at Sky Stadium in Wellington on July 16, 2022. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

All Blacks XV headicoach Leon MacDonald has named his playing 23 to face a Japan XV in the first of a two match series.


The starting front row for the team consists of Xavier Numia as the loosehead prop, Jermaine Ainsley as the tighthead prop, and Ricky Riccitelli as the hooker. Impact players on the bench include Tyrone Thompson, Ollie Norris, and Pouri Rakete-Stones.

Naitoa Ah Kuoi and Quinten Strange form the locking duo, while the loose forward trio comprises Akira Ioane, Christian Lio-Willie, and Du’Plessis Kirifi. Co-Captain Billy Harmon and Cameron Suafoa are substitutes.

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In the backline, Brad Weber (Co-Captain) and Stephen Perofeta will play at scrum-half and fly-half, respectively. Jack Goodhue and Alex Nankivell are the midfield combination at 12 and 13. Folau Fakatava will make an impact from the bench.

The back three consists of Etene Nanai-Seturo on the left wing, Bailyn Sullivan on the right wing, and Ruben Love as the starting fullback. Sam Gilbert and Brett Cameron are named as replacements.

“We are anticipating a huge challenge from Japan on Saturday, they are a strong team and we know they have been preparing intensely for the next two matches,” said MacDonald.

“With a short lead in to kick off, it’s about balancing the team with experienced players and emerging talent. The players are all out to showcase their skills and strength as a team on the international stage. It’s going to be an incredibly proud moment for the team and their whanau, especially for those players representing New Zealand for the first time.”


MacDonald has also named Brad Weber and Billy Harmon as co-captains.


The matchday 23 is as follows (Super Rugby Club, Province)

Xavier Numia (Hurricanes, Wellington)
Ricky Riccitelli (Blues, Taranaki)
Jermaine Ainsley (Highlanders, Otago)
Naitoa Ah Kuoi (Chiefs, Bay of Plenty)
Quinten Strange (Crusaders, Tasman)
Akira Ioane (Blues, Auckland)
Du’Plessis Kirifi (Hurricanes, Wellington)
Christian Lio-Willie (Crusaders, Otago)
Brad Weber – Co-Captain (Chiefs, Hawke’s Bay)
Stephen Perofeta (Blues, Taranaki)
Etene Nanai-Seturo (Chiefs, Counties Manukau)
Jack Goodhue (Crusaders, Northland)
Alex Nankivell (Chiefs, Tasman)
Bailyn Sullivan (Hurricanes, Waikato)
Ruben Love (Hurricanes, Wellington)
Tyrone Thompson (Chiefs, Hawke’s Bay)
Ollie Norris (Chiefs, Waikato)
Pouri Rakete-Stones (Hurricanes, Hawke’s Bay)
Cameron Suafoa (Blues, North Harbour)
Billy Harmon – Co-Captain (Highlanders, Canterbury)
Folau Fakatava (Highlanders, Hawke’s Bay)
Brett Cameron (Hurricanes, Manawat?)
Sam Gilbert (Highlanders, Otago)


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