All Blacks rotate at 10, get new captain against Fiji

New Zealand have named a rotational swap at flyhalf while their much-changed team to face Fiji in the first Test match on Saturday will have a new captain.

Beauden Barrett returns to his favoured flyhalf position and scrumhalf Aaron Smith will captain New Zealand for the first time in a much- changed All Blacks team named on Thursday.

Outside centre Rieko Ioane and wing George Bridge are they only players in the starting side for Saturday’s match in Dunedin who also began last week’s Test against Tonga.

Ethan Blackadder and George Bower, who came off the bench against Tonga, will get their first Test starts against Fiji.

Coach Ian Foster, who is keen to give his entire squad match time in the Tests against the Pacific Islanders, is expecting a much tougher workout against Fiji than the All Blacks received in their runaway 102-0 win over Tonga.

“The Fijian team will bring a very different challenge from Tonga. They are a more established side made up of primarily overseas-based players, who are among some of the better players in Europe,” Foster said.

“It should be a fast, physical match.”

Scrumhalf Smith, who did not lace up his boots last week, will be playing his 98th Test and will partner Barrett in the halves for the first time in 19 Tests, with the All Blacks preferring Richie Mo’unga in the 10 jersey and Barrett at fullback since then.

In the starting front row, alongside Bower making his first Test start, are hooker Codie Taylor in his 57th Test an Nepo Laulala playing his 30th Test.

Brodie Retallick and Patrick Tuipulotu, with 118 Tests between them, will lock the scrum while Blackadder is joined in the loose forwards by Shannon Frizell and Hoskins Sotutu.

Outside Smith and Barrett in the halves, David Havili returns to the All Blacks for the first time in four years to partner Ioane in the centres while Bridge, Sevu Reece and Jordie Barrett make up the outside trio.

Prop Ethan de Groot is in line to make his Test debut off the bench.

All Blacks – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge; 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith (c), 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Will Jordan.

Fiji – 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Eroni Sau, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Levani Botia (c), 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Simione Kuruvoli, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Mesulame Kunavula, 6 Johnny Dyer, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Temo Mayanavanua, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Samuel Matavesi, 1 Peni Ravai.
Subs: 16Peni Narisia, 17 Haereiti Hetet, 18 Leeroy Atalifo, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Peceli Yato, 21 Setareki Tuicuvu, 22 Eneriko Buliruarua, 23 Manasa Mataele.

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Getty Images

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