Scrumhalf Finlay Christie will make his first international start after he was named in a new-look All Blacks starting XV to face the USA in Washington DC on Saturday.
New Zealand coach Ian Foster has deployed an overhauled side to kick off the All Blacks’ tour of the northern hemisphere when they take on Gary Gold’s Eagles at FedExField.
Loose forward Luke Jacobson is the only survivor from the starting line-up that went down 31-29 to South Africa earlier this month in a thrilling finale to the Rugby Championship in Australia.
Foster’s experimental match-day squad includes a place on the bench for uncapped 20-year-old lock Josh Lord, while veteran second row Sam Whitelock will captain the team and pack down alongside Tupou Vaa’i.
In the front row, loosehead prop Ethan de Groot gets his first Test start after two appearances off the bench this year, while hooker Asafo Aumua will start an international for only the second time. Angus Ta’avao fills in at tighthead.
Jacobson is joined in the back row by openside Dalton Papalii with Hoskins Sotutu starting at eighthman. Sam Cane, returning to the Test fold after missing the international season due to chest muscle surgery, earns a spot on the bench in what will be his 75th Test.
Christie is at scrumhalf alongside Richie Mo’unga at flyhalf. Quinn Tupaea is picked at inside centre with Braydon Ennor outside him at 13.
Will Jordan and George Bridge are on the wings with Damian McKenzie at fullback.
“We’ve had a great week’s build-up here in Washington DC. The early part of the week was about recovering from our travel and getting clarity around some concepts in our game and we have slowly been building in intensity and getting into our work,” Foster said.
“It’s time to get back into our groove after our break in Australia and with a number of players having not played for awhile. It’s time to get our game going again and we are ready to go.”
After this weekend’s Test match against the Eagles in the US capital, the All Blacks play Wales in Cardiff on 30 October.
This will be followed by a Test against Italy in Rome on 6 November, then a clash with Ireland in Dublin on 13 November. The tour concludes with a Test against France in Paris on 20 November.
All Blacks – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Asasfo Aumua, 1 Ethan De Groot.
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 George Bower, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Josh Lord, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
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