SBW to start for All Blacks

Sonny Bill Williams will start at inside centre when the All Blacks face Samoa in Auckland on Friday.

Williams will partner Anton Lienert-Brown in the midfield in the absence of the injured Ryan Crotty, while Ben Smith will captain the side from fullback, with regular skipper Kieran Read unavailable due to a thumb injury.

Meanwhile, Aaron Smith will start at No 9 in a vastly experienced New Zealand squad containing 871 Test caps, with the All Blacks set to take on the British & Irish Lions in the opening Test next weekend.

'Samoa is about to kick off the qualifying stage of their World Cup campaign, so this will make them even more dangerous,' coach Steven Hansen commented.

'The Samoans are always a challenge and will play with a high level of physicality and skill. At the very minimum, we will need to match that.'

All Blacks – 15 Ben Smith (c), 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Jordie Barrett.
Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Post by

Craig Lewis