First start for Finlay Christie as All Blacks name line-up

Date published: October 21 2021 - Planet Rugby

Finlay Christie will make his first international start for New Zealand after he was named in their starting XV to face the USA in Washington DC on Saturday.

The scrum-half will be joined in the half-backs by Richie Mo’unga while Quinn Tupaea starts at number 12 and Braydon Ennor, in his first Test start, is at 13.

Will Jordan and George Bridge are on the wings and Damian McKenzie is at full-back in what is a deadly back three which should cause the Eagles problems.

Josh Lord set for Test debut

It will be a special day for 20-year-old Josh Lord, who has been named on the bench and will have huge experience around him for his first Test match, with All Blacks captain Samuel Whitelock returning at starting lock, alongside Tupou Vaa’i.

In the starting front-row, prop Ethan de Groot gets his first Test start after two appearances off the bench this year, hooker Asafo Aumua gets his second Test start of the year and Angus Ta’avao provides experience at tighthead prop.

George Bower and Tyrel Lomax are the prop replacements, with Dane Coles, making his eagerly-awaited return to the All Blacks, on the bench.

The starting loose forwards are the exciting young trio of Luke Jacobson at six, Dalton Papalii at seven and number eight Hoskins Sotutu, with the hugely experienced Sam Cane making his welcome return to the national side via the bench, after missing the international season to undergo chest muscle surgery. He will be playing his 75th Test.

The All Blacks will have huge international experience in the back reserves, with half-back TJ Perenara, fly-half Beauden Barrett and Anton Lienert-Brown ready to make impact from the bench.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said: “We’ve had a great week’s build-up here in Washington DC. The early part of the week was about recovering from our travel and getting clarity around some concepts in our game and we have slowly been building in intensity and getting into our work.

“The chance for us to play in a new city and new stadium is pretty special and the group is really excited and looking forward to the occasion. It’s time to get back into our groove after our break in Australia and with a number of players having not played for awhile. It’s time to get our game going again and we are ready to go.”

Speaking on the newest All Black, Foster said: “Josh Lord is a young man who’s been really enthusiastic since he came in. He’s bringing a lot of energy and learning a lot and we’re looking forward to seeing him go.”

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Samuel Whitelock (c), 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Ethan de Groot
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 George Bower, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Josh Lord, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

Date: Saturday, October 23
Venue: FedExField, Washington DC
Kick-off: 15:30 local (20:30 BST, 19:30 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Moe Chaudhry (Canada), Scott Green (USA)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)