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All Blacks get major boost for Italian job

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The All Blacks welcome back four players from injury for their Pool A clash against Italy on Friday.

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Both teams have everything to play for, making this an intriguing matchup in front of a crowd that is expected to be close to 60 000.

“Italy is growing in confidence after winning their first two games and they represent a massive challenge for us after coming off our bye week,” said head coach Ian Foster.

“We fully respect their growth over the last two years and are expecting a huge game with both teams having everything to play for.”

Samuel Whitelock is in line to become the most-capped All Blacks Test player in history, after being named in the reserves. If the 34-year-old takes the field, he will surpass Richie McCaw’s record of 148 Test matches for the All Blacks, played between 2001 and 2015.

Whitelock is set to reach the milestone 13 years and three months after making his debut for the All Blacks in June 2010.

The game also marks the return of four players from injury. Midfielder Jordie Barrett and flank Shannon Frizell are in the run-on side while Sam Cane and Tyrel Lomax are due to make their return from the bench.

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Up front the selectors have included over 180 Test caps of experience between Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Codie Taylor and Nepo Laulala. Test centurion Brodie Retallick is joined by Scott Barrett in the second row while Ardie Savea will captain the side in a loose forward trio featuring Dalton Papali’i and Frizell.

The match will mark the first All Blacks Test in Lyon since the 2007 World Cup pool match against Portugal. With the team being based in Lyon for the tournament, it is fitting that next week’s final pool match against Uruguay will also be staged there.

“We have really enjoyed our time in Lyon and look forward to seeing many of the locals at the game on Friday,” added Foster.

“We can’t thank them enough for the hospitality and support that they have shown us since we arrived at the start of the tournament.”

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New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Mark Tele’a, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Dalton Papali’i , 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Samuel Whitelock, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Cam Roigard, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

Date: Friday, September 29
Venue: OL Stadium, Lyon
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT; 21.00 CEST; 08.00 Saturday, Septemver 30 NZST)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Nic Berry (Australia) & Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

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