Cape Town - The All Blacks team to play Ireland at Soldier Field, Chicago has been named, with new All Black Scott Barrett set to make his Test debut from the bench and Julian Savea to play his 50th Test.
The All Blacks team 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 the front row replacements.
Loose forward Jerome Kaino, who has covered lock in Tests 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, when he takes the field, as expected, from the bench on Saturday.
In the loose forwards, Liam Squire has been named at blindside flanker for his second Test start this year, alongside Sam Cane in the seven jersey, and All Blacks skipper Kieran Read is in his regular eight jersey and will play his 95th Test. Ardie Savea provides loose forward cover off the bench.
In the backs, Aaron Smith returns to the All Blacks starting side for his 55th Test appearance inside flyhalf Beauden Barrett, while the selectors have gone with the midfield combo of Ryan Crotty at inside centre and George Moala at outside centre.
It will also be a milestone moment for Julian Savea who will run out in his 50th Test alongside his fellow winger Waisake Naholo and vice-captain Ben Smith at fullback. The replacement backs are TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden and Malakai Fekitoa.
All Blacks 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.
“Returning to Chicago for only the second time in our history has, once again, been a great experience. The team have embraced the sporting atmosphere and the culture of the city and we really appreciate the way we’ve been looked after by the people of Chicago.
“As far as our preparation for Saturday has gone, we have knuckled down and done some great work throughout the week.
“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.”
15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 George Moala, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captaini), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Jerome Kaino, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Malakai Fekitoa