Rugby Championship

Naholo to make All Blacks debut

2015-07-14 20:15
Waisake Naholo of the Highlanders celebrates his try with team-mate Patrick Osborne (Getty Images)

Christchurch - Try-scoring machine Waisake Naholo makes his All Blacks debut on Friday against Argentinean with celebrated centurions Richie McCaw and Dan Carter making their final appearance before their home crowd.

The inclusion of Fijian flyer Naholo for the opening Rugby Championship Test is one of six changes to the All Blacks squad that scrambled to a 25-16 win in their season opener against Samoa a week ago.

Another new All Black, hooker Codie Taylor, is set to make his first appearance off the bench.

Naholo, who blossomed with the Otago Highlanders this year, was the leading try-scorer in Super Rugby, touching down 13 times.

He comes in for George Moala on the right wing as coach Steve Hansen calls up four of the 17 squad members who featured in the Super final between the Highlanders and Hurricanes.

Senior All Blacks from that final, including Ben and Conrad Smith, are getting further time to recover before being introduced to the All Blacks limited World Cup build-up.

"We have a lot of respect for Argentina and what they bring and understand that we will have to improve our game quite considerably from our Samoan effort," Hansen said.

"With that in mind, the selectors did not want to make too many changes. It's a fine balancing act between getting game time for those who need it, giving others the rest they may need, and giving ourselves an opportunity to see players and combinations in the heat of the Test battle so we can make good selections going forward."

Other changes to the All Blacks see lock Brodie Retallick replace Sam Whitelock, TJ Perenara comes in at scrumhalf with Andy Ellis dropping to the bench, Ma'a Nonu starts at outside centre paired with Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Messam is added to the reserves for Matt Todd.

For two of the all-time great All Blacks, McCaw and Carter, it will be an emotional farewell appearance before their home crowd in Christchurch, with Carter moving to France after the World Cup later this year and McCaw set to retire.

"I guess there will be a few emotions," Carter said. "I love playing in Christchurch. Every time I play there in the black jersey it just means something special."

Hansen said the team would discuss how to cope with the emotional outing for McCaw in his 139th Test and Carter playing his 103rd.

"As a group we have to sit and around and ask 'how are we going to deal with this, boys?'. Are we going to embrace it and make it work for us or is it going to be something to carry around like a sack of coal on our backs that becomes a burden?"

The All Blacks and Argentina have played each other 20 times, with the All Blacks recording 19 wins and a draw.

The two sides will next meet in their opening match of the World Cup starting in England in September.


New Zealand

15-Israel Dagg, 14-Waisake Naholo, 13-Ma'a Nonu, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Charles Piutau, 10-Daniel Carter, 9-TJ Perenara, 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Brodie Retallick, 4-Luke Romano, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Keven Mealamu, 1-Tony Woodcock

Substitutes: 16-Codie Taylor, 17-Wyatt Crockett, 18-Nepo Laulala, 19-Jeremy Thrush, 20-Liam Messam, 21-Andy Ellis, 22-Colin Slade, 23-Ryan Crotty




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