New Zealand call in electric backs for Ireland decider

Gamebreaking New Zealand backs Will Jordan and David Havili will make their first start of the series in a New Zealand match-day 23 in the third and decisive Test against Ireland on Saturday.

In addition to the four personnel changes, coach Ian Foster has made two positional switches to his starting lineup as he chases a vast improvement in Wellington on Saturday from last week’s historic 23-12 second Test defeat in Dunedin.

There are also three new faces among the replacements, including former New Zealand rugby league captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who is in line for a high-stakes Test debut.

Alongside him on the bench are flank Akira Ioane and veteran hooker Dane Coles, with all three yet to take the field in the series.

Jordan starts on the right wing, pushing Sevu Reece to the left wing, where Leicester Fainga’anuku has been dropped.

A scorer of 18 tries in 14 Tests, Jordan maintained his streak with a late consolation score off the bench in Dunedin, having missed the first Test with Covid-19.

Crusaders teammate Havili has also shaken off Covid and is a straight replacement for Quinn Tupaea at inside centre, where Foster will hope Havili’s vision and varied kicking game will give New Zealand’s attack greater variety.

Only one starting change has been forced on Foster, with 40-Test tighthead prop Laulala replacing Angus Ta’avao, who was sent off for a high tackle in Dunedin and copped a three-week suspension.

Nepo Laulala missed the first two Tests while nursing a neck injury and his starting recall means Ofa Tu’ungafasi drops to the bench.

Veteran lock Sam Whitelock will play his 134th Test after recovering from concussion symptoms that sidelined him from the second Test, pushing Scott Barrett back to flank, where he played in the 42-19 first Test win in Auckland.

Foster said the challenge of preparing for a series-deciding Test was one his team had embraced.

“It’s tough having a loss, but the tough weeks are often the most exciting,” he said.

“A series decider against a high-quality side is a great occasion for our growth as a team.”

New Zealand – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

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