The All Blacks-laden match-day squads for the North vs South derby in Wellington on Saturday have been announced.
The North team’s forward pack is filled with Blues and Hurricanes players, summarised perfectly by the loose-forward trio of Akira Ioane, Ardie Savea and Hoskins Sotutu.
In the star-studded North backline Barrett reconnects with former long-time Hurricanes partner TJ Perenara as the halfback axis, while Anton Lienert-Brown and Rieko Ioane will feature in the midfield. Perenara’s selection has longtime fellow All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith relegated to the bench.
The outside backs will be Blues rookie Caleb Clarke, Crusaders star Sevu Reece and Chiefs playmaker Damian McKenzie.
The South team features plenty of All Blacks talent as well a forward pack made up mostly of Crusaders and Highlanders.
The backline is where it get mores colourful, though, with Brad Weber named at halfback and Jordie Barrett in the No 15 jersey. Around them are plenty of Crusaders in Mo’unga, George Bridge, Jack Goodhue, Brayden Ennor and Will Jordan.
North Island – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Mitchell Hunt.
South Island – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, Brad Weber, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Sam Whitelock (c), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 George Bower, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Dillon Hunt, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Leicester Faingaanuku.
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