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Rome (AFP) – Sam Cane will lead an effective New Zealand side against Italy in Rome on Saturday as the All Blacks look to preserve their unbeaten run against the Azzurri.
Richie Mo’unga was restored to the opening after Beauden Barrett won his 100th cap in the All Blacks’ 54-16 loss to Wales in Cardiff last weekend.
The OpenSide flanker Cane missed the Wales game, having returned to international rugby after shoulder and chest surgeries with 30 minutes left in the recent 104-14 rout of the United States- United in Washington.
Cane will be teamed up with Luke Jacobson and Hoskins Sotutu in the last row as New Zealand seek to record their 15th consecutive victory against Italy – the teams’ 2019 World Cup game in Japan has been called off due to the Typhoon Hagibis.
With tour captain Sam Whitelock on the bench and Brodie Retallick with a shoulder injury, lock Josh Lord will make his first test start, with the 20-year-old teaming up with Taranaki teammate, 21, Tupou Vaa ‘ i in the second. line.
“Tupou is a quality footballer and we have seen more signs of that over the past two weeks, while Josh on his first tour learned things quickly and was very lucid in training,” said the All Blacks coach Ian Foster in naming his team Thursday.
With potentially grueling encounters against Ireland and France wrapping up New Zealand’s European tour, it was no surprise to see Foster sound the changes in what will be the former All Blacks’ former full-back’s first test. Kieran Crowley as Italy coach.
Foster, ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France, added: “With this tour, we aim to develop the opportunities and depth of this group.”
Mo’unga, however, has effectively been the All Blacks’ first-choice opener since the start of 2019, but he missed the start of the year-end trip for the birth of his second child, with Barrett scoring his historic test in Cardiff with a pair of interception tries.
New Zealand (15-1)
Damien McKenzie; Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Quinn Tupaea, George Bridge; Richie Mo’unga, Brad Weber; Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Cane (captain), Luke Jacobson; Josh Lord, Tupou Vaa’i; Tyrel Lomax, Dane Coles, George Bower
Replacements: Asafo Aumua, Ethan de Groot, Ofa Tuungafasi, Sam Whitelock, Shannon Frizell, Finlay Christie, David Havili, Jordie Barrett
Coach: Ian Foster (NZL)
© 2021 AFP