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Star players return for All Blacks’ must-win World Cup clash with Italy

By Finn Morton
Jordie Barrett of New Zealand celebrates after winning a Rugby Championship match between Argentina Pumas and New Zealand All Blacks at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on July 08, 2023 in Mendoza, Argentina. (Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)

With “everything to play for” against Italy on Friday night, the All Blacks have named a near full-strength team which includes returning duo Shannon Frizell and Jordie Barrett.

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Tyrel Lomax and Sam Cane are also set to return from injury off the bench which is another major boost for the All Blacks ahead of a must-win clash with the Azzurri.

The All Blacks’ World Cup dream hangs in the balance. New Zealand started their campaign with a historic loss to France in Paris, and another defeat would probably send them packing.

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With the hopes of a rugby-mad nation resting on the shoulders of the 33 men in the All Blacks’ squad, coach Ian Foster has named a frighteningly strong side.

“Italy is growing in confidence after winning their first two games and they represent a massive challenge for us after coming off our bye week,” Foster said in a statement.

“We fully respect their growth over the last two years and are expecting a huge game with both teams having everything to play for.”

Along with the return of Frizell and Jordie Barrett, coach Foster has also picked Cam Roigard and Damian McKenzie on the bench.

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Sam Whitelock will also surpass former captain Richie McCaw as the most capped All Black in history, should the 34-year-old come off the pine after being named on the bench.

Head-to-Head

Last 3 Meetings

Wins
3
Draws
0
Wins
0
Average Points scored
77
10
First try wins
100%
Home team wins
33%

Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Codei Taylor and Nepo Laulala will pack down in the front row, while Brodie Retallick and Scott Barrett have been selected as the two starting locks.

Frizell is set to return from a hamstring injury and being named at blindside, and will link up with Dalton Papali’i and captain Ardie Savea in a formidable backrow trio.

Veteran Aaron Smith and playmaker Richie Mo’unga will combine in a familiar halves pairing, and the backline will be boosted by the return of Jordie Barrett at No.12. Barrett will start alongside Rieko Ioane in the midfield.

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Coach Foster has come with a powerful back three with Mark Telea’a and Will Jordan named on the left and right wings respectively, and Beauden Barrett will start at fullback.

All Blacks team to take on Italy

  1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (55)
  2. Codie Taylor (80)
  3. Nepo Laulala (51)
  4. Brodie Retallick (105)
  5. Scott Barrett (64)
  6. Shannon Frizell (28)
  7. Dalton Papali’i (28)
  8. Ardie Savea (captain) (77)
  9. Aaron Smith (121)
  10. Richie Mo’unga (51)
  11. Mark Tele’a (6)
  12. Jordie Barrett (52)
  13. Rieko Ioane (65)
  14. Will Jordan (26)
  15. Beauden Barrett (118)

Replacements 

  1. Dane Coles (88)
  2. Tamaiti Williams (3)
  3. Tyrel Lomax (27)
  4. Samuel Whitelock (148)
  5. Sam Cane (90)
  6. Cam Roigard (3)
  7. Damian McKenzie (43)
  8. Anton Lienert-Brown (65)
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Comments

45 Comments
D
Dave 268 days ago

Selections: 6/10
Hooker: Coles on bench?
Samosini needs time on the pitch to sort his lineout work.
Props: Williams for Laulala
Locks: ok
Loosies: Blackadder on bench, Savea at 7, Jacobson at 8. Papalii needs a big game
Inside backs: ok, but let RM run the show on his own
Midfield backs: ok, but I still think Ioane is a better winger
Outside backs: Leister on R wing, WJ at 15, BB on bench

T
Tristan 268 days ago

Unfortunately this year we simply have a very weak AB squad. Front row mostly either past it or carrying injuries. Locks two aged legends with vaai and lord not try there. Loosies simply zero world class players right now- Ardie would be if playing 7 regularly. Halfbacks one old, one journeyman, one will be great in a few years, mounga pretty average at test level. Midfielders mostly transplanted outside backs. Jordan strangely out if form, telea on wrong wing, Leicester seemingly not trusted in big games, beauden past it. Add to that the worst coach in my life time and zero coherent game plan. I can't see any way we win a quarter final. It really hurts to say it, but that's how it is.

U
Utiku Old Boy 268 days ago

Stubborn selections despite the evidence of form - as usual. Leicester should be starting with Telea on the other wing, Ardie at 7, LJ or Blackadder at 8, BB to the bench or in the stands, average front row... After a win, they will be all claiming everything is back on track. Painful.

M
Mark 268 days ago

It is interesting reading the comments by kiwis re team selection and their general negativity about Foster and his coaching team.
I'm sure that many kiwis are still of the opinion that being world no.1 is in fact a birthright and can't fully comprehend how 2 northern hemisphere teams in Ireland and France have the temerity to now be ranked 1 & 2 respectively in the world. 😅

D
Def Kiwi 268 days ago

A bit disappointing that Ethan Blackadder is not there.

S
Shayne 268 days ago

No Lester or Blackadder, Barrett at 15 Reiko at 13 Ardie at 8 ,Foster is deluded and out of his depth and always has been. Worst ever All Blacks coach and selections I've seen what a waste of 4 year's.

J
Jacinda 268 days ago

Why no Blackadder?

P
Pecos 268 days ago

Too hypey. A "powerful" back three would be Telea, Faingaanuku, & Jordan. A "formidable" backrow wouldn't have Papaali in it or a short guy at #8. That said, ABs to win easily, as expected.

C
Chris 268 days ago

Fozzie is a loser, Italy has no chance and never did
Consistently is difficult if your coach has no clue, just look at the pathetic ‘strines

G
G 268 days ago

Coles? Jeeez

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