McKenzie gets key role for All Blacks XV against Ireland 'A'
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: All Blacks XV head coach Leon MacDonald has named a blend of experience and rising young talent to challenge Ireland ‘A’ in the first of the two-match series, with a strong contingent of Crusaders and Chiefs players named to take the field.
The All Blacks XV starting front row features loosehead prop Aidan Ross, tighthead prop Tevita Mafileo and Brodie McAlister at Hooker. Tyrone Thompson, Finlay Brewis and Tamaiti Williams will provide impact off the bench.
Josh Dickson and captain Patrick Tuipulotu make up the locking duo, with Dominic Gardiner, Marino Mikaele Tu’u and Luke Jacobson the loose forward trio. Crusaders players Zach Gallagher and Christian Lio-Willie are on the bench.
In the backs, an experienced combination of TJ Perenara (co-captain) and Damian McKenzie will take the field at nine and ten. With young Hurricanes player, Cam Roigard on the bench. With an equally strong midfield, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Braydon Ennor to start at No.12 and No.13.
The back three is made up of AJ Lam on the left wing, Shaun Stevenson on the right and Ruben Love starting at fullback. Josh Ioane and Alex Nankivell were named to be injected off the bench.
MacDonald said: “We are anticipating a huge challenge from Ireland ‘A ‘on Friday. They are a top tier, physical team with strong attack and defence, as we saw earlier this year against the Māori All Blacks.”
MacDonald excited for Tuipulotu and Perenara to captain and vice-vaptain the All Blacks XV, is expecting their experience as leaders to be an asset across the team.
“With a short lead into this first match, we’ve balanced out experience with younger rising talent. The players are all out to showcase their immense skills and strength as a team, they’re excited to get this opportunity to play on an international scale and to represent New Zealand in what will be a proud moment for players and their whanau,” said MacDonald.
All Blacks XV: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 AJ Lam, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Luke Jacobson, 6 Dominic Gardiner, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Tevita Mafileo, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Thompson, 17 Finlay Brewis, 18 Tamaiti Williams, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Christian Lio-Willie, 21 Cam Roigard, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Alex Nankivell.
Date: Friday, November 4
Venue: RDS Arena, Dublin
Kick-off: 19.45 (19.45 GMT; 08.45 NZDT Saturday, November 5)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Adam Leal (England), Luc Ramos (France)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)