All Blacks make seven changes for France
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Richie Mo’unga starts at flyhalf instead of the injured Beauden Barrett for this weekend’s highly-anticipated Test with France.
Barrett failed a head injury assessment during last Saturday’s defeat in Ireland.
Mo’unga will be partnered at halfback by Aaron Smith, who will make his first appearance on the tour in Saturday’s dress rehearsal for the opening game of the 2023 World Cup – after missing away victories over the United States, Italy and Wales due to paternity leave.
“We’re really excited about this match, it’s a big statement game for us, and we know we have to respond from the Irish performance,” coach Ian Foster said.
“It’s been an incredibly long tour but I’ve been delighted with how the players have handled it from a physical point of view.
“We’ve had to manage the physical and mental load for the players, so have changed things up a bit for this final Test to maximise the energy within the whole group,” he added.
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The new faces for Saturday’s game in Paris also include hooker Dane Coles, back row forwards Akira Ioane and Sam Cane, George Bridge and centre Quinn Tupaea.
Front row forward Codie Taylor, flanks Ethan Blackadder and Dalton Papali’i and wing Sevu Reece drop out of the squad completely.
Tupaea replaces the injured Anton Lienert-Brown in midfield to make just his seventh Test appearance.
The All Blacks last lost in Paris in 1973, but have been knocked out at a World Cup twice by Les Bleus.
“There’s mutual respect between our two countries built over years and years. Kiwis have always loved the way the French play, there’s a flair about them that we’ve always been drawn to they have knocked us over in some pretty big moments in history.
“They are a young, formidable team building in confidence and they’ve been targeting this match,” he added.
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Samison Taukei’aho, 17 George Bower, 18 Osa Tuungafasi, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Brad Webber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 David Havili.
Date: Saturday, November 20
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 21.00 (20.00 GMT; 09.00 Sunday, November 21 NZ time)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)