The New Zealand team to play Ireland in Saturday’s Test match at Soldier Field in Chicago has been confirmed. New All Black Scott Barrett is set to make his debut from the bench and winger Julian Savea will win his 50th international cap.
The All Blacks selection sees the experienced starting front row of props Joe Moody and Owen Franks and hooker Dane Coles named, with Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina and Codie Taylor backing them up from the bench.
Loose forward Jerome Kaino, who has covered lock at international level in the past, will start his first Test in that position alongside Patrick Tuipulotu. It will be a significant day for 22-year-old replacement lock Scott Barrett, the younger brother of Beauden, who is set to make his Test debut and become All Black number 1155.
In the loose forwards, Liam Squire gets the nod at blindside flanker for his second Test start this year, alongside Sam Cane at openside and number 8 and captain Kieran Read who will play his 95th Test. Ardie Savea provides loose forward cover.
In the backs, Aaron Smith returns to the starting line-up for his 55th Test appearance, alongside half-back partner Beauden Barrett, while Ryan Crotty and George Moala pair up in the centre.
It will also be a milestone moment for Julian Savea who will run out for his 50th cap alongside fellow winger Waisake Naholo and vice-captain Ben Smith at full-back. The replacement backs are TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden and Malakai Fekitoa.
New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen said: “Firstly, we want to congratulate Scott on being selected in the matchday 23 for the first time. It will be special day for him and the entire Barrett family, including his two brothers who are touring with him.
“Also, we want to congratulate Julian on reaching 50 Tests. That is a significant achievement and again he and his family can be rightly proud of everything he has achieved in the black jersey.”
He added: “The challenge we face from Ireland is a massive one. They’re a well-coached team with quality players, they play to their strengths and they’re very good at identifying and attacking the weaknesses of the opposition they face.
“We anticipate them using some special plays that we haven’t seen before, as well as bringing a very physical, ‘in your face’ attitude and a structured kicking game. Knowing all this has created a good edge in our group.
“Having said that, I’m most interested in seeing what we’ll bring to the contest because, like us, they too have weaknesses and there’ll be a need to bring our own physicality, and structures to take the game to them for the full 80 minutes.
“With this being the first game of the four-match tour, it gives us an opportunity to take our game to the next level.”
NEW ZEALAND Team & Replacements (v Ireland, 2016 Vista Northern Tour, Soldier Field, Chicago, Saturday, November 5, kick-off 3pm local time/8pm Irish time):
15. Ben Smith (Otago/Highlanders) 58
14. Waisake Naholo (Taranaki/Highlanders) 8
13. George Moala (Auckland/Blues) 3
12. Ryan Crotty (Canterbury/Crusaders) 24
11. Julian Savea (Wellington/Hurricanes) 49
10. Beauden Barrett (Taranaki/Hurricanes) 46
9. Aaron Smith (Manawatu/Highlanders) 54
1. Joe Moody (Canterbury/Crusaders) 20
2. Dane Coles (Wellington/Hurricanes) 46
3. Owen Franks (Canterbury/Crusaders) 87
4. Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland/Blues) 10
5. Jerome Kaino (Auckland/Blues) 75
6. Liam Squire (Tasman/Highlanders) 6
7. Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs) 37
8. Kieran Read (Canterbury/Crusaders) (capt) 94
16. Codie Taylor (Canterbury/Crusaders) 11
17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Auckland/Blues) 2
18. Charlie Faumuina (Auckland/Blues) 42
19. Scott Barrett (Canterbury/Crusaders) *
20. Ardie Savea (Wellington/Hurricanes) 9
21. TJ Perenara (Wellington/Hurricanes) 26
22. Aaron Cruden (Manawatu/Chiefs) 43
23. Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland/Highlanders) 20
* Denotes uncapped player