The All Blacks team has been named to play Fiji in the third match of the Steinlager Series at FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday 17 July.
The naming sees a return from injury for midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown and loose forward Ardie Savea in what will be their 50th Test matches. Savea will start at openside flanker and Lienert-Brown is in the 13 jersey.
The starting front row is unchanged from last week’s 57-23 win over Fiji, with loosehead prop George Bower, hooker Codie Taylor and tighthead Nepo Laulala again supported by prop Ethan de Groot and hooker Dane Coles from the bench, with prop Angus Ta’avao also coming into the reserves.
Lock Samuel Whitelock returns to captain the side, starting alongside Scott Barrett in the second row, with Brodie Retallick continuing his return to international rugby via the bench.
In the loose forwards, alongside Savea, Akira Ioane gets his second start in the Steinlager Series in the six jersey, with Luke Jacobson also getting his second start at number eight. Shannon Frizell is loose forward cover in the 20 jersey.
In the backs, Aaron Smith retains his starting spot at halfback, inside Richie Mo’unga at ten. David Havili is again at 12, inside Lienert-Brown, after his first Test start there last week. In the outsides, Sevu Reece moves to the left wing while Will Jordan comes off the bench onto the right wing and Damian McKenzie is at fullback. Halfback Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett and Rieko Ioane are the back reserves.
All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said: “It was the second Test of the year for us last weekend and we were pretty happy with our performance. There were a lot of views about our performance and that’s the beauty of being in this team: people expect perfection.
“We took some really good steps up from the week before (against Tonga) and we were satisfied with our performance, but it did highlight some areas we need to keep growing. This Steinlager Series campaign has been about growing our game and making sure we have players that are ready to go for what will be a long season.”
On Savea’s and Lienert-Brown’s milestone, Foster said: “To play 50 games for the All Blacks is pretty special and it’s also special that they get to do it together. Both are really influential players, they’re excited and will have some proud families coming along to watch.”
The matchday 23 is (Test caps in brackets)
1. George Bower (2)
2. Codie Taylor (57)
3. Nepo Laulala (30)
4. Scott Barrett (41)
5. Samuel Whitelock (124) - captain
6. Akira Ioane (3)
7. Ardie Savea (49)
8. Luke Jacobson (4)
9. Aaron Smith (98)
10. Richie Mo’unga (23)
11. Sevu Reece (9)
12. David Havili (4)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (49)
14. Will Jordan (4)
15. Damian McKenzie (29)
16. Dane Coles (76)
17. Ethan de Groot (1)
18. Angus Ta’avao (15)
19. Brodie Retallick (82)
20. Shannon Frizell
21. Brad Weber (8)
22. Beauden Barrett (90)
23. Rieko Ioane (35)