Hoskins Sotutu earns run-on debut for All Blacks while Ngani Laumape makes a surprise return
The matchday 23 features the selection of 2020 All Black Hoskins Sotutu at number eight in his first Test start, in for Ardie Savea, while loose forward Dalton Papalii and midfielder Ngani Laumape also make their first appearance of 2020 on the bench.
Sotutu is one of three changes to the starting forward pack for Saturday: Karl Tu’inukuafe comes in at loosehead prop for Joe Moody, who is still going through HIA (head injury assessment) protocols, while Samuel Whitelock returns at starting lock. Tyrel Lomax comes onto the bench for Nepo Laulala. In the backs, Laumape is in the 22 jersey, while Rieko Ioane is in the 23 jersey.
All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said this week’s approach to what would be a massive Test match was simple.
“It’s the third Test of a four Test series and the Bledisloe Cup is on the line. It’s a real chance for us to come into their home patch, a place which they take a lot of pride in playing and for a trophy which means a lot to them, and we need to show them how much it means to us. The chance to go and win a trophy that’s precious to us is exciting.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 28, 2020
On Hoskins Sotutu, Foster said: “He’s had plenty of minutes already in the Bledisloe Cup series and he’s ready to go. He’s excited. It’s a chance to start his first Test so it’s pretty special for him.”
Foster said the All Blacks were also hugely excited by the prospect of winning the Bledisloe Cup on Australian soil, the first time since 2009 that the team had had that challenge.
“None of our players, even our experienced ones, have had to win the trophy in Australia. In the past the deciding game has always been in New Zealand, so I think it’s a great challenge for us.”
Commenting on the Bledisloe Cup series to date, Foster added: “It’s been a two-pronged learning approach for us. Firstly, we’ve been learning about how we can get better ourselves and we’ve been delighted with the way the new players especially have made progress there. Now we just need to cement the growth in our game. Secondly, clearly, we’ve also been learning about the Australians.”
The matchday 23 is as follows (Test caps in brackets):
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe (14)
2. Dane Coles (71)
3. Ofa Tuungafasi (37)
4. Patrick Tuipulotu (32)
5. Samuel Whitelock (118)
6. Shannon Frizell (11)
7. Sam Cane (70) – captain
8. Hoskins Sotutu (2)
9. Aaron Smith (94)
10. Richie Mo’unga (19)
11. Caleb Clarke (2)
12. Jack Goodhue (15)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (45)
14. Jordie Barrett (19)
15. Beauden Barrett (85)
– All Blacks
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