New All Black Alex Hodgman named, Caleb Clarke and Tupou Vaa’i start, Scott Barrett returns for Bledisloe Cup presented by Investec.
The All Blacks team has been named to play Australia in the second Bledisloe Cup presented by Investec at Eden Park, Auckland, on Sunday 18 November (Kick-off: 4.00PM NZT, LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on Sky)
The matchday 23 is as follows (Test caps in brackets):
1. Joe Moody (47)
2. Dane Coles (70)
3. Ofa Tuungafasi (36)
4. Patrick Tuipulotu (31)
5. Tupou Vaa’i (1)
6. Shannon Frizell (10)
7. Sam Cane (69) – captain
8. Ardie Savea (45)
9. Aaron Smith (93)
10. Richie Mo’unga (18)
11. Caleb Clarke (1)
12. Jack Goodhue (14)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (44)
14. Jordie Barrett (18)
15. Beauden Barrett (84)
16. Codie Taylor (51)
17. Alex Hodgman – debut
18. Nepo Laulala (27)
19. Scott Barrett (36)
20. Hoskins Sotutu (1)
21. TJ Perenara (65)
22. Rieko Ioane (30)
23. Damian McKenzie (24)
The matchday 23 features the selection of another new All Black, with prop Alex Hodgman set to make his Test debut from the bench, while two other new All Blacks, lock Tupou Vaa’i and winger Caleb Clarke, are making their first Test start in their second Tests.
Hodgman is one of several changes in the matchday 23 forwards, with hooker Dane Coles starting and Codie Taylor on the bench, while prop Nepo Laulala returns via the bench alongside Hodgman. Lock Sam Whitelock is going through head injury assessment (HIA) protocols and was unavailable for selection, so Tupou will start alongside Patrick Tuipulotu. As well, there is a welcome return via the bench for 36-Test lock Scott Barrett, after a four-month injury layoff.
In the backs, Anton Lienert-Brown has been named at centre, while Rieko Ioane will provide impact from the bench. George Bridge, who suffered a serious pectoral injury in training on Wednesday, makes way for Clarke on the left wing. Beauden Barrett resumes his position at fullback after his late withdrawal last week, with Damien McKenzie on the bench.
All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said: “Our preparation this week has been really good. It was our first Test together last weekend and while there were some aspects of our game that we were pretty excited about, especially around our set piece, we didn’t get the performance that we wanted, so there has been plenty for us to work on. We need to be smarter with our ball and more focused defensively.
“The Bledisloe series is back to square one and starts again this weekend, which is exciting. It’s the last Test at home for us so there will also be massive excitement amongst our fans. There is everything to play for and we can’t wait.”
On the selection of Vaa’i and Hodgman, Foster said: “It’s a great opportunity for Tupou. We enjoyed seeing him come off the bench last weekend, he brought a lot of energy and he has settled in well.
“Alex has been impressive in the training weeks. He’s mobile and he’s been making big strides in his scrummaging, so it’s a big opportunity for him in his first Test.”
The All Blacks and Australia will be playing their 168th Test against each other. New Zealand has won 115 of those matches, Australia 44 with eight draws. The All Blacks have held The Bledisloe Cup since 2003.
Mini bio – Alex Hodgman
Born and raised in Auckland, Alex Hodgman travelled south to begin his professional career, making his debut for Canterbury in 2014. The 27-year-old prop won three Mitre 10 Cup titles with the red and blacks and notched up nine Super Rugby caps for the Crusaders before returning home to Auckland. Hodgman is a now a regular feature for the Blues and Auckland and is a powerful scrummager with a high workrate around the field.