Following Beauden Barrett’s ACL strain which saw Damian McKenzie take over at fullback, Ian Foster has had to make another late change to the first All Blacks squad of his tenure.
Prop Nepo Laulala, who was named on the bench for today’s clash with the Wallabies, has withdrawn from the match for personal reasons. Tyrel Lomax, who played one match for New Zealand at the end of 2018, has taken Laulala’s place.
Lomax was released from the All Blacks squad earlier this week in order to earn some more game time for his Mitre 10 Cup side, Tasman. While Lomax was named on Tasman’s bench for their match with Bay of Plenty today, the 24-year-old will instead earn his second cap for New Zealand.
Lomax, son of former Kiwis prop John Lomax, was born in Canberra and represented the Melbourne Rebels in the 2016 Super Rugby season. In 2018, Lomax signed with the Highlanders and committed his future to New Zealand.
With 26 caps to his name, Laulala was the odds-on favourite to start against the Wallabies but Ofa Tu’ungafasi’s impressive form for the Blues throughout Super Rugby forced Laulala onto the bench.
Yesterday, Beauden Barrett tweaked his achilles tendon and will sit out the game as a precaution. In his place, Damian McKenzie will start at fullback.
In total, seven players who weren’t named in New Zealand’s initial World Cup squad last year will play in today’s match.
Revised New Zealand team: Damian McKenzie, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Jack Goodhue, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (c), Shannon Frizell, Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Dane Coles, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa’i, Hoskins Sotutu, TJ Perenara, Anton Lienert-Brown, Caleb Clarke.
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