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Quinn Tupaea one of four new debutants for All Blacks in clash with Tonga

By Tom Vinicombe
(Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

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Ian Foster has named four new debutants for the All Blacks‘ opening game of 2021 against Tonga in Auckland.


In the front row, Karl Tu’inukuafe will combine with Angus Ta’avao on either side of the scrum while 74-test hooker Dane Coles will pack down in the No 2 jersey.

Captain Samuel Whitelock has been named to start alongside Crusaders teammate Scott Barrett in an experienced second row – though the same cannot be said for the loose forward trio.

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Luke Jacobson has earned an All Blacks recall after a tough 18 months.
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Luke Jacobson has earned an All Blacks recall after a tough 18 months.

Akira Ioane retains his spot on the blindside flank as the incumbent in the position but still boasts just two caps to his name.

His Blues teammate Dalton Papalii has been handed just his second start for the All Blacks and will don the famous No 7 jersey while number 8 Luke Jacobson will make his first run-on appearance for the men in black.

After two seasons in the side, Brad Weber is also finally poised for his first test start and will partner Richie Mo’unga in the halves.

In the midfield, Quinn Tupaea will debut at second five and will link up with Blues dangerman Rieko Ioane for a new All Blacks midfield pairing.


George Bridge returns to the starting side for his first test since Wellington last year, while fullback 22-year-old Will Jordan will wear No 14 in a new-look back three.

Damian McKenzie has been given the nod at fullback, with both Barretts named on the bench as utility back options.

The other spots on the bench are filled by three more debutants, prop George Bower, loose forward Ethan Blackadder, and halfback Finlay Christie. Tyrel Lomax and Patrick Tuipulotu round out the reserves.

Last time the two nations met, New Zealand ran out sizeable winners, triumphing 92-7 in Hamilton ahead of the 2019 World Cup. Tonga have named a very green lineup for the match, including 14 debutants of their own.


Saturday’s game kicks off at 7:05pm NZT from Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.

All Blacks:

  1. Karl Tu’inukuafe (17)
  2. Dane Coles (74)
  3. Angus Ta’avao (14)
  4. Scott Barrett (36)
  5. Samuel Whitelock (122) – captain
  6. Akira Ioane (2)
  7. Dalton Papalii (4)
  8. Luke Jacobson (2)
  9. Brad Weber (7)
  10. Richie Mo’unga (22)
  11. George Bridge (10)
  12. Quinn Tupaea (new cap)
  13. Rieko Ioane (33)
  14. Will Jordan (2)
  15. Damian McKenzie (27)
  16. Asafo Aumua (1)
  17. George Bower (new cap)
  18. Tyrel Lomax (6)
  19. Patrick Tuipulotu (35)
  20. Ethan Blackadder (new cap)
  21. Finlay Christie (new cap)
  22. Beauden Barrett (88)
  23. Jordie Barrett (23)


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