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Ian Foster's quickfire retort regarding Scottish-born All Black Finlay Christie

By Tom Vinicombe
Finlay Christie. (Photo by Derek Morrison/Photosport)

The All Blacks have named Scottish-born scrumhalf Finlay Christie in the No 9 jersey for this weekend’s fixture in Edinburgh.

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Christie made his Test debut in the opening fixture of last year’s All Blacks campaign, with the 27-year-old earning 25 minutes off the bench in New Zealand’s 102-0 thrashing of Tonga.

The Blues halfback has now clocked up 14 appearances in the black jersey and the outing at Murrayfield will mark his third Test start, after previously running out against Italy and Japan.

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Christie’s Scottish heritage was unsurprisingly a focal point at the media conference following the naming of the line-up for Sunday’s match and All Blacks head coach Ian Foster wasted no time making a friendly joke at Scotland’s expense when quizzed on his inexperienced halfback.

“Well we got one and you guys got about 50,” Foster retorted, in reference to Scotland’s many NZ-born Test representatives. “But we quite like our one, so appreciate the donation.

“He’s a quality man and he’s proud of his background up here,” Foster said of the 27-year-old. “But he is also really proud to [represent NZ], he’s made the move as a family.

“But look, he’s a quality person, played his way into this squad through some really good form and the fact that we named him in a starting position is a sign of our confidence in him.”

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Christie joined the experienced Aaron Smith and up-and-coming Folau Fakatava in the All Blacks squads named for the July series and the Rugby Championship this year, with Brad Weber and TJ Perenara missing out. A recent injury to Fakatava, however, has opened the door for Weber and Perenara to earn recalls, with the latter named on the bench for Sunday’s fixture.

Christie, however, remains the first-choice back-up to Smith, and has certainly earned his two starts this year after a superb season with the Blues, where he often partnered Beauden Barrett in the halves.

“Yeah, I’m pumped,” Barrett said when asked whether he was looking forward to again linking up with his Super Rugby teammate. “Can’t wait to get out there with Red [the flame-haired Christie] and I enjoy taking the field with him, whether it’s at Super level or at international.

“We’ve got a good little combo going from our years at the Blues and hopefully we can build on that and have a good game on Sunday.”

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Meanwhile, Christie – born just outside of Peebles to Chris Christie and Liz Fleming – was put to task explaining his Scottish roots to the media in attendance and acknowledged that it would be a special moment running out on the Murrayfield turf.

“It’ll be pretty cool,” he said when asked about his first opportunity to play professional rugby in Edinburgh. “It’s been on the bucket list for a wee while to play at Murrayfield.

“I’d say it’ll be more special for the parents, but looking forward to it. They’re real stoked so they’ll be along at the game and yeah, they’ll be happy. I don’t know (what jerseys they’ll be wearing). I think they’ll be happy either way, won’t they? So win-win for them.”

While Scotland don’t have any NZ-born players in their current squad, Finn Russell and Jonny Gray both spent half a year in the Canterbury region during their formative years. Former Crusader Sean Maitland was the most recent Kiwi to suit up in Scotland colours, earning a half-century of caps for the nation between 2013 and 2021.

Saturday’s fixture at Murrayfield is set to kick off at 2:15pm GMT.

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