Moala to make NZ debut in Samoa

Date published: July 5 2015

The All Blacks team for the historic Test against Samoa in Apia on Wednesday July 8 has been named, with George Moala to make his Test debut on the wing.

A further three new All Blacks have been named on the reserves bench: prop Nepo Laulala, scrum-half Brad Weber and centre Charlie Ngatai.

The starting XV features a wealth of experience in the forward pack, with 638 Test caps up front, courtesy of a front row of Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and Owen Franks; locks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano; and the familiar loose forward trio of Jerome Kaino, captain Richie McCaw and Kieran Read.

There are a further 224 Test caps in the starting backline, with half-back Andy Ellis returning to the All Blacks for the first time since 2011; Daniel Carter is at fly-half with Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty in the midfield. Moala is on the right wing, Charles Piutau is on the left and Israel Dagg is at full-back

On the bench, hooker Hika Elliot continues his remarkable rugby comeback after last playing for the All Blacks in 2012 and undergoing neck surgery in 2013. Wyatt Crockett joins Laulala as prop cover while Brodie Retallick will provide lock cover. Another returning All Black, Matt Todd, is loose forward reserve. In the backs, Colin Slade joins Weber and Ngatai as backs reserves.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said the team was excited by the numerous challenges that the Test against Samoa will pose.

"It’s exciting for the group to be playing this first ever All Blacks Test in Samoa and we know it’s going to be a special occasion. The Samoans will be incredibly physical and keen to put in a huge performance in front of their fans and we will have to play with high intensity and accuracy with plenty of physicality.

"We have had a good build-up this week and, with it being a new season and our first Test of the year, we have tried to keep things as simple as possible and now looking forward to getting our season underway."

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 George Moala, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Charlie Ngatai

Date: Wednesday, July 8

Venue: Apia Park, Samoa

Kick-off: 15:00 local (02:00 GMT)

Referee: Jaco Peyper