New coaches pick new players in Wallabies, All Blacks squads
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - New All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has selected Richie Mo’unga for flyhalf and added three new caps to their squad for Sunday’s first Bledisloe Cup test against Australia.
Foster picked the formally strong Mo'unga in 10th place ahead of reigning Beauden Barrett, a two-time World Rugby Player of the Year who will start as a defender in New Zealand's first Test in a year.
Mo’unga was one of the leading players of the season in New Zealand's super rugby Aotearoa, while Barrett was in mixed shape for his new club, Auckland-based Blues. After Barrett missed the start of the full Super Rugby season, he moved from the Wellington Hurricanes to the Blues and had to play the flyhalf role as a defender.
Foster was expected to include several uncap players in his line-up for the game at the Wellington Regional Stadium, but he was cautious and did not name any new internationals in his starting XI. Instead, he's given Lock Tupou Vaa'i, backrower Hoskins Sotutu and winger Caleb Clarke the opportunity to make test debuts from the bench.
Vaa'i, 20, was a construction worker early in the season but made a big impression with his form for Taranaki Province and the Hamilton-based Chiefs. Sotutu and Clarke both come from the blues and are big and powerful ball carriers.
Jordie Barrett will start on the right wing in a back three that includes his brother Beauden and George Bridge. Rieko Ioane, who has completed most of his 29 tests as a winger, will start in the middle after rediscovering his form in that position. He will combine with Jack Goodhue in midfield.
"We really wanted to see how the players adapted and adapted and how comfortably they came back into the environment, so there were a number of positions we wanted to be open about," said Foster. "We are excited about the group.
"There's a lot of talent in there and we have players who jump out of their skin and want a chance. It was fantastic to get together and know that there'll be a friendly at the end of the week."
Dave Rennie has added three new internationals to the grid and one more on the bench for his first test as a Wallabies coach.
Rennie, who succeeded Michael Cheika after last year's World Cup, was confronted with an inevitable need to rejuvenate the Wallabies line-up due to injuries and failures. He relied on three young and largely untested new caps; His three capless starters are all in their twenties and from the Queensland Reds.
20 year old Harry Wilson will start in the background after being one of the most effective ball carriers in Australian super rugby this season. Wilson also brings off-loading skills to the blindside role.
The 22-year-old Filipo Daugunu starts on the left wing. As an exciting attacker for the Reds, he brings speed, high skill and an element of unpredictability to the wallaby game.
Center Hunter Paisami, 22, was largely unknown at the start of the Australian season. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Paisami slept on the floor of his agent's office 18 months ago after being dropped by the Melbourne Rebels.
He was picked up by the Reds and became a key member of their backline due to his strong carrying capacity and robust defenses. He is taking over jersey No. 13 from Jordan Petaia, who was running out of time while recovering from a hip injury.
Rennie picked Noah Lolesio on the bench. It was believed that Lolesio had an outside chance to start in 10th place ahead of James O’Connor, but Rennie was more cautious and so Lolesio will likely make his Test debut as a replacement.
Tom Banks starts as a full-back and moves to Daugunu and Marika Koroibete. Matt To’omua will team up with Paisami in midfield.
Pete Samu joins Wilson and Captain Michael Hooper in the background as James Slipper takes off on his 97th Test at Loosehead Prop. Hooper will play his 100th test, making it the 12th wallaby. Lock Matt Philip has been called back after a two-year absence and will make his fourth test appearance.
The test is the first in the world to have been played since the Six Nations in March, when the sport was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Jack Goodhue, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (Captain), Shannon Frizell, Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tuungafasi, Codie Taylor and Joe Moody. Reserves: Dane Coles, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaa'i, Hoskins Sotutu, T.J. Perenara, Anton Lienert-Brown and Caleb Clarke.
Australia: Tom Banks, Filipo Daugunu, Hunter Paisami, Matt To'omua, Marika Koroibete, James O'Connor, Nic White; Pete Samu, Michael Hooper (captain), Harry Wilson, Matt Philip, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Taniela Tupou, Folau Fainga, James Slipper. Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Scott Sio, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Rob Valetini, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio and Reece Hodge.
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