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New Zealand announce squad to face Samoa at Eden Park

New Zealand announce squad to face Samoa at Eden Park

Ben Smith will captain the All Blacks

New Zealand have named four of the five forwards who took on The British & Irish Lions for the Crusaders in their starting line-up for their match against Samoa at Eden Park this Friday.

“It’s going to be a unique night with two Tests being played at the same venue.”

Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks and Sam Whitelock all lined up last week in Christchurch against the Lions in a 12-3 victory for Warren Gatland’s side.

Ben Smith has been named as Kiwi captain for the first time and will be the 68th player to skipper the All Blacks the national side in a Test.

The matchday 23 also sees the return of midfielder Sonny Bill Williams, who played for the Blues against the Lions earlier in the Tour, in his first Test back since the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham. Hooker Nathan Harris also makes a long-awaited return to Test rugby after being injured last August.

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Jordie Barrett and Vaea Fifita are set to make their Test debuts from the bench when they take on the pacific island nation in the Express Pasifika Challenge.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “We’d like to congratulate everyone who has been selected for this Test, particularly ‘Benda’ (Ben Smith), who will captain the side for the first time. He’s been our vice captain for a few years now and captain of the Highlanders, where he’s been doing a fantastic job, so was the logical choice. He leads by example and is an inspiration to his teammates.

“It’s also going to be a big night for Jordie and Vaea as they’re both likely to play a part on the night. They’ve both been in great form and we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do at this level.

“This first week has been about bringing together the players from the five different Super clubs and reintroducing them to the All Blacks way. We’ve had a good week and are really looking forward to this match.

“It’s going to be a unique night with two Tests being played at the same venue featuring four teams that are well known to New Zealand fans. It’s a night that shouldn’t be missed, as I’m picking there will be a lot of great rugby played so get on down there and show your support.”

 

Meanwhile eight of the 23-man Samoa squad will be making their first appearances for their country with Crusaders centre Kieron Fonotia making his debut from the start.

New Zealand (v Samoa, Friday, June 16, Eden Park 8pm NZST/9am BST):

15 Ben Smith
14 Israel Dagg
13 Anton Lienert-Brown
12 Sonny Bill Williams
11 Julian Savea
10 Beauden Barrett
9 Aaron Smith

1 Joe Moody
2 Codie Taylor
3 Owen Franks
4 Brodie Retallick
5 Samuel Whitelock
6 Jerome Kaino
7 Sam Cane
8 Ardie Savea

Replacements:
16 Nathan Harris
17 Wyatt Crockett
18 Charlie Faumuina
19 Scott Barrett
20 Vaea Fifita
21 T J Perenara
22 Lima Sopoaga
23 Jordie Barrett

Samoa:
15 Ah See Tuala
14 Albert Nikoro
13 Kieron Fonotia
12 Alapati Leiua
11 Tim Nanai Williams
10 Tusiata Pisi
9 Kahn Fotualii

1 Viliamu Afatia
2 Maatulimanu Leiataua
3 Census Johnston
4 Chris Vui
5 Faatiga Lemalu
6. Piula Faasalele
7 Jack Lam
8 Faifili Levave

Replacements:
16 Seilala Lam
17 Nephi Leatigaga
18 Paul Alo-Emile
19 Taiasina Tuifua
20 Alafoti Faosiliva
21 Auvasa Falealii
22 D’Angelo Leuila
23 Ken Pisi

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