Topic: Rugby

ABs team announced to play Samoa in Pasifika Challenge

By Online News - Rereātea
This will be Sonny Bill's first game since the 2015 World Cup.

The All Blacks team to play Samoa in the American Express Pasifika Challenge on Friday night at Eden Park has been named with new All Blacks Jordie Barrett and Vaea Fifita set to make their Test debuts from the bench and Ben Smith named as run-on captain for the first time.

Smith, the All Blacks Vice-Captain, will lead the team in his 61st Test and will be the 68th player to captain the national side in a Test.

It will be a milestone match for Beauden Barrett, with the first five-eighth to run out in his 50th Test. Midfielder Sonny Bill Williams will also make a return. It'll be his first game back since the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham.  

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen says, "We'd like to congratulate everyone who has been selected for this Test, particularly 'Benda' (Ben Smith), who will captain the side for the first time. He's been our Vice-Captain for a few years now and captain of the Highlanders, where he's been doing a fantastic job, so was the logical choice. He leads by example and is an inspiration to his teammates.

It's also going to be a big night for Jordie and Vaea as they're both likely to play a part on the night. They've both been in great form and we're looking forward to seeing what they can do at this level.

Whilst we asked for this game to help us prepare for the DHL New Zealand Lions Series, once it became a reality, it then took on its own importance - this is a Test match against a quality and very capable opponent. Samoa is about to kick off the qualifying stage of their Rugby World Cup campaign, so this will make them even more dangerous.  The Samoans are always a challenge and will play with a high level of physicality and skill.  At the very minimum, we will need to match that."

"It's going to be a unique night with two Tests being played at the same venue featuring four teams that are well known to New Zealand fans. It's a night that shouldn't be missed, as I'm picking there will be a lot of great rugby played so get on down there and show your support," Hansen adds.

The match day 23 is (with Test caps in brackets. * denotes new cap):

1. Joe Moody (24)
2. Codie Taylor (15)
3. Owen Franks (90)
4. Brodie Retallick (60)
5. Samuel Whitelock (84)
6. Jerome Kaino (77)
7. Sam Cane (40)
8. Ardie Savea (12)
9. Aaron Smith (58)
10. Beauden Barrett (49)
11. Julian Savea (52)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (33)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (9)
14. Israel Dagg (61)
15. Ben Smith - captain (60)
16. Nathan Harris (4)
17. Wyatt Crockett (58)
18. Charlie Faumuina (46)
19. Scott Barrett (4)
20. Vaea Fifita*
21. T J Perenara (29)
22. Lima Sopoaga (6)
23. Jordie Barrett *