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Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's Auckland absence hints at All Blacks selection

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

With David Havili and Quinn Tupaea both leaving the field in last week’s Bledisloe Cup clash, much of the discussion in the follow-up has centred around who the All Blacks will field in the No 12 jersey in this weekend’s rematch at Eden Park.

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Jordie Barrett and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck have been touted as the two men vying for the inside centre role, with the former shifting into the position part-way through the opening Bledisloe victory.

While we won’t know until later on Thursday who head coach Ian Foster has anointed as the next cab off the ranks in the midfield, it appears that Tuivasa-Sheck will likely play at least some role in the match, having been omitted from Auckland’s key NPC fixture with Canterbury this weekend.

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Instead of training with the All Blacks and travelling to Melbourne for last week’s match, Tuivasa-Sheck remained with his provincial side, with Foster indicating that the 29-year-old would benefit from more minutes under his belt.

“Those are some aspects he can go away and work on,” the coach said earlier this month. “Overall, really pleased with the growth but I guess now it’s just waiting for the opportunity.”

Tuivasa-Sheck has now made five appearances for Auckland throughout this year’s NPC competition and his absence from Friday’s crucial top-of-the-table clash with Canterbury suggests that he may have bigger fish to fry on Saturday.

Tuivasa-Sheck’s absence from the line-up means there’s just one change to the backline Auckland used in their recent victory over Tasman, with 21-year-old Corey Evans slotting into the No 12 jersey to partner Bryce Heem.

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Another All Black, prop Angus Ta’avao, has also ostensibly been pulled from the squad, with Marcel Renata taking over on the tighthead side of the scrum. Hamish Dalzell and Niko Jones also join the starting forward pack in place of Jamie Lane and Adrian Choat.

Friday’s clash between Auckland and Canterbury will take place at Orangetheory Stadium at 7:05pm on Friday night.

Auckland: Salesi Rayasi, AJ Lam, Bryce Heem, Corey Evans, Tomas Aoke, Harry Plummer, Taufa Funaki, Jackson Pugh, Niko Jones, Blake Gibson, Hamish Dalzell, Josh Beehre, Marcel Renata, Soane Vikena, Alex Hodgman. Reserves: Robbie Abel, Jordan Lay, Sione Ahio, Connor Vest, Vaiolini Ekusai, Manu Paea, Simon Hickey, Sofai Maka.

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