All Blacks: Leicester Fainga’anuku makes debut on the wing while Scott Barrett starts at six

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Leicester Fainga’anuku will make his debut for the All Blacks after being named on the wing against Ireland for Saturday’s clash.

The speedster has been performing consistently for the Crusaders over the last couple of seasons and is rewarded with a start, likely fast-tracked by Will Jordan contracting Covid.

Big call at flank

Crusaders captain Scott Barrett has been selected on the blindside flank for the clash as Akira Ioane has a niggle. Dalton Papalii is said to not be quite ready after having his appendix removed in the latter stages of the Super Rugby Pacific.

Speaking on a Zoom call as he is isolating with the virus, coach Ian Foster says Barrett’s shift to flank is on the back of the strong form and allows Ioane and Papalii time to recover fully.

“We know he can do it,” he said of Barrett. “We feel he’s one of the form players of Super Rugby in the last six weeks and is on top of his game. We just felt it was the right way to utilise those other two, and use Scott for this test and give those two a chance to get back to 100.

“We don’t see it as just a stop-gap measure. It’s been sped up with Akira and Dalton’s niggles, and made that decision a little easier. But to have a big ball-carrier in those loose forwards who works hard and makes a considerable contribution to the set piece gives us good options.

“Is it going to be perfect? There may be a few teething issues, but we’ve got a lot of faith in Scott and the work he’s done and work done by the coaches, and we’re looking forward to seeing it unfold.”

Ofa Tu’ungafasi is set to start alongside Codie Taylor and George Bower in the front row. Foster had only praise for the front-row selected for the crucial clash.

“Ofa was probably the form prop in New Zealand for 80% of Super Rugby, and had a couple of glitches at the end he would have learned a lot about. We’ve got a lot of faith in him – he’s mobile, he’s big.

“George has got better and better over the last two years, and it’s a chance to utilise Karl off the bench. He’s in a good spot.”

Experienced second-row

Meanwhile, veterans Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock make up the second-row, while Sam Cane and Ardie Savea join Barrett in the back-row.

Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett make up a tried-and-tested half-back pairing with Quinn Tupaea and Rieko Ioane in the midfield.

In the back three, Jordie Barrett starts at full-back, with Sevu Reece joining Fainga’anuku on the wings.

On the bench, Pita Gus Sowakula could debut after being named alongside Samisoni Tukei’aho, Angus Ta’avao, Papalii, Finlay Christie, Richie Mo’unga and Braydon Ennor.

New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Pita Gus Sowakula, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Braydon Ennor

Date: Saturday, July 2
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:05 local (08:05 BST,07:05 GMT)
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Jordan Way (Australian)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

READ MORE: All Blacks: Scrum guru Greg Feek tests positive for Covid-19

 

The article All Blacks: Leicester Fainga’anuku makes debut on the wing while Scott Barrett starts at six appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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