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Ethan Blackadder wins blindside battle as All Blacks bring back big guns

By Tom Vinicombe
Ethan Blackadder. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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After naming a largely experimental side to take on the Eagles in Maryland last weekend, Ian Foster has unsurprisingly recalled his first-string line-up for the opening game of the All Blacks‘ European tour.


Sam Whitelock, Dalton Papalii and Will Jordan are the only starters to retain their spots from last weekend’s 104-14 win, with Foster making 12 personnel changes to the run-on XV and 18 positional changes to the matchday 23.

The first-choice front row of Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Nepo Laulala returns to the team after last facing off with the Springboks in Queensland at the beginning of the month.

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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eyes over all the developments from the past week of rugby.
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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eyes over all the developments from the past week of rugby.

Captain Whitelock will be joined by Brodie Retallick in the second row, and will go up against the Ospreys combo of Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Beard.

In the loose forwards, Ethan Blackadder is preferred ahead of Akira Ioane in the blindside flanker role, and will team up with Papalii and Ardie Savea for the first time this season.

TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett – who is set to play his 100th match – have won the race to start in the halves, with Brad Weber and Richie Mo’unga providing cover in the reserves.

In the midfield, David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown will partner up for the fifth time this season, while Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett are recalled to the back three to link up with last week’s hat-trick hero, Will Jordan.


On the bench, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa’i and Akira Ioane will cover the forwards while Weber and Mo’unga will be joined by Sevu Reece in the backs.

This weekend’s match will mark the first time the All Blacks have squared off with Wales – or any European side – since the 2019 World Cup.

“It’s exciting to be back here in the North, albeit in very different circumstances,” said Foster. “The All Blacks have always loved touring north, these test matches are a big part of our history as a rugby team and it’s been three years since we played in Europe, so there’s a real sense of excitement. What a better place to start than at a packed-out stadium here in Cardiff.

“It’s a very special time for Beauden and his family and it’s also a special time for this team and its legacy. He’s a big part of this team, he’s a key leader, he’s captained the All Blacks, he’s vice captain on this tour and he’s an influencer on and off the park. I can’t speak more highly about his contribution as a person to the black jersey. The chance to play his 100th Test at this stadium against Wales is really special.”


All Blacks: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea, Dalton Papalii, Ethan Blackadder, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa’i, Akira Ioane, Brad Weber, Richie Mo’unga, Sevu Reece.


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