All Blacks bring back big guns for Springboks Test
All Blacks coach Ian Foster has recalled Beauden Barrett at flyhalf and restored his big guns to the pack for the Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Townsville on Saturday.
Scott Barrett and Brodie Retallick come back into the second row for the match at North Queensland Stadium, while blindside flanker Akira Ioane and number eight Luke Jacobson return to join skipper Ardie Savea in the back row.
Hooker Codie Taylor will pack down with props Nepo Laulala and Joe Moody in an experienced front row for what is expected to be a titanic forward battle against the world champions.
Foster has formidable reserve forwards to call on, with experienced prop Ofa Tuungafasi and lock Patrick Tuipulotu on the bench for the clash in the tropics.
"It’s really important, the modern game is about the 23 and it’s very likely that those guys will get injected maybe a little earlier than expected," Foster told reporters on Thursday.
"We’re excited about the depth that we’ve grown in that space."
Beauden Barrett has been paired with scrumhalf TJ Perenara to lead a backline featuring Rieko Ioane and David Havili in the centres and Will Jordan and George Bridge on the wings.
The third Barrett brother in the side, fullback Jordie, edged out Damian McKenzie to complete a back three which will be expected to deal with a barrage of tactical kicking from the Springboks.
"Tough decision on Sevu (Reece) particularly because he’s played really, really well," said Foster of the omitted winger.
"But we probably felt that aerially the other two are slightly ahead in terms of being a bit taller and we are expecting a bit of the aerial battle."
The All Blacks will seal a 12th title in the southern hemisphere championship with a match to spare if they secure a win on Saturday in the teams' 100th Test encounter.
"We're well positioned and we’re now going to measure ourselves against a team that’s going to play a different game of rugby and we’re excited by that," said Foster.
"The fact that it's got a 100th tag on it is going to make it even more special."
Team: 15-Jordie Barrett, 14-Will Jordan, 13-Rieko Ioane, 12-David Havili, 11-George Bridge, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-TJ Perenara, 8-Luke Jacobson, 7-Ardie Savea (captain), 6-Akira Ioane, 5-Scott Barrett, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Nepo Laulala, 2-Codie Taylor, 1-Joe Moody. Replacements: 16-Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17-Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18-Ofa Tuungafasi, 19-Patrick Tuipulotu, 20-Ethan Blackadder, 21-Brad Weber, 22-Damian McKenzie, 23-Quinn Tupaea
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