United States v New Zealand - Teams and Prediction
END OF YEAR TEST: New Zealand coach Ian Foster says Test spots will be up for grabs when an experimental All Blacks line-up kicks off their northern hemisphere tour against the United States in Washington on Saturday.
Foster has made 14 changes in personnel from the team beaten by South Africa in the finale to the Rugby Championship earlier this month for this weekend’s one-off game against the Eagles at FedEx Field, home of the NFL’s Washington Football Team.
Saturday’s game launches a hectic end-of-season schedule for the All Blacks, who will head to Europe to face Wales, Italy, Ireland and France on consecutive weekends after leaving the US.
Foster said Thursday individuals named to Saturday’s starting XV have the chance to force their way into his plans for the European leg of the tour.
“I won’t go into specifics, but there’s a clear opportunity for everyone,” Foster told reporters on a video call.
“We’re coming in off a loss that hurt. We’re clearly favourites but what’s important for us is the quality of our game.
“By the end of the game we need to make sure that our performance is at the right level. By doing that there will be individuals who put their hand up.”
*Article continues below…
The wounded Eagle
Saturday’s Test marks the third time the All Blacks have played a game in the United States in recent years.
In 2014, New Zealand thumped the US Eagles 74-6 at Chicago’s historic Soldier Field. Two years later, the All Blacks returned to Chicago and were beaten 29-40 by Ireland in an epic one-off Test.
Even allowing for the All Blacks untested starting line-up, anything other than a comfortable New Zealand victory on Saturday would be a major surprise.
Foster however has warned his players to expect a backlash from an Eagles team still smarting from a defeat to Uruguay earlier this month that saw them fail to secure an automatic berth to the 2023 World Cup in France.
“They’ll be stung from that,” Foster said. “If you looked at a couple of their performances in July they were very, very competitive.
“They’ll be disappointed with that. And the chance to play in their own country in a pretty special stadium that they don’t normally play in, in front of a big crowd, is very much a motivating factor.
“We’re expecting an invigorated Eagles team that will carry hard and play with commitment, which you kind of expect from the States. I think they’ll be really combative in that space.”
Veteran lock forward Sam Whitelock will captain the Kiwis after missing the Rugby Championship games in Australia, taking over from temporary skipper Ardie Savea. Long-term skipper Sam Cane is part of the touring squad was not considered for the captaincy in order to concentrate on form and fitness. Cane is on the bench for Saturday’s Test.
Foster said Cane was “100 percent behind” the decision.
“He’s been out a long time,” Foster said. “It’s the right decision for him and the right decision for us. It gives him time and space to get his own game going.”
*Article continues below…
Saturday’s match meanwhile comes just days after the United States formally unveiled a bid to host the men’s World Cup in either 2027 or 2031, and the women’s World Cup in 2029, giving the sport exposure on a national stage.
USA Rugby chief executive Ross Young said: “This is a special match for all of us within the USA rugby community, taking on one of the world’s best in our nation’s capital.
“With the Men’s Eagles having last played on the east coast in 2017, we’re thrilled to welcome eager fans to what is always a special experience facing the All Blacks,” he said.
Coach and former Springboks assistant coach Gary Gold said: “It is exciting to round out our fall Test schedule with a fixture against the All Blacks.
“It’s no secret this team is and has been, one of the best in the world and the opportunity to go head-to-head at home is special. As the Rugby World Cup will be less than two years out, we look forward to heading into this Rugby World Cup calibre match.”
*Article continues below…
Player to watch:
For USA: South African-born Hanco Germishuys will be on to keep an eye on. The 25-year-old, who has been at the Sharks Academy, has 26 Test caps and could be an influential figure in the pack. Joining the Saffa in the loose forwards are No.8 Cam Dolan and flank Benjamin Bonasso. Having to dictate the match from flyhalf is Irish-born Luke Carty. The 24-year-old face a major challenge going head-to-head with Richie Mo’unga.
For New Zealand: All Blacks Captain Samuel Whitelock returning at starting lock. In the starting front row, prop Ethan de Groot gets his first Test start after two appearances off the bench this year. The starting loose forwards are the exciting young trio of Luke Jacobson at six, Dalton Papalii at seven and number eight Hoskins Sotutu. In the backs, it’s a first Test start for scrumhalf Finlay Christie. While Braydon Ennor is also in his maiden Test start at centre.
1913: New Zealand won 51-3, Berkeley
1991: New Zealand won 46-6, Gloucester (World Cup Pool match)
2014: New Zealand won 74-6, Chicago
@rugby365com: New Zealand by 30 points
USA: 15 Will Hooley, 14 Ryan James, 13 Tavite Lopeti, 12 Bryce Campbell (captain), 11 Ryan Matyas, 10 Luke Carty, 9 Nate Augspurger, 8 Cam Dolan, 7 Hanco Germishuys, 6 Benjamin Bonasso, 5 Nick Civetta, 4 Nate Brakeley, 3 Paul Mullen, 2 Dylan Fawsitt 1 Matt Harmon
Replacements: 16 Chad Gough, 17 Faka’osi Pifeleti, 18 Dino Waldren, 19 Siaosi Mahoni, 20 Moni Tonga’uiha, 21 Andrew Guerra, 22 Michael Baska, 23 Mike Dabulas
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Sam Whitelock (captain), 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Ethan de Groot
Replacements:16 Dane Coles, 17 George Bower, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Josh Lord, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown
Date: Saturday, October 23
Venue: FedExField, Washington DC
Kick-off: 15.30 (19.30 GMT; 08.30 Sunday, October 24 New Zealand time)
Expected weather: Partly Cloudy. High of 19°C and a low of 9°C
Referee: Angus Gardner (RA)
Assistant Referees: Moe Chaudhry (RC) & Scott Green (USAR)
TMO: Brett Cronan (RA)