All Blacks: Sam Whitelock named captain against Wallabies in Sam Cane’s absence

Dylan Coetzee
All Blacks star Sam Whitelock poses for a photo with coach Ian Foster after winning the Bledisloe I Test in Melbourne 2022.

Second-row Sam Whitelock will captain the All Blacks in the second Bledisloe Test at Eden Park in the absence of Sam Cane.

Cane was ruled out of the clash after being taken off the field in Bledisloe I. There was a possibility the skipper could play after passing a late night HIA (Head Injury Assessment) after last week’s game, but strict protocols around head knocks prevented the flank from playing.

Veteran Brodie Retallick starts alongside stand-in captain Whitelock in the second-row. Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor starts over the in-form Samisoni Taukei’aho alongside Tyrel Lomax and Ethan de Groot in the front-row.

New back-row

Cane’s absence presents a new look back-row. Ardie Savea returns to number eight after missing Bledisloe I for the birth of his child, while Dalton Papali’i and Akira Ioane start on the side of the scrum.

The efficient half-back pairing of veteran Aaron Smith and Richie Mo’unga continues after providing balance to the side over the last few Tests. However, David Havili is ruled out through injury prompting a positional change for Jordie Barrett, who slots in at 12 inside the elusive Rieko Ioane – a player who continues to impress in 2022.

Playmaker Beauden Barrett starts at full-back alongside Will Jordan and Caleb Clarke in a potent looking back three.

On the bench, Taukei’aho is joined by prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Nepo Laulala as the front-row replacements, with Tupou Vaa’i and Hoskins Sotutu making up the other forwards substitutions.

Code-hopping Roger Tuivasa-Sheck could win his second Test cap from the bench, while Finlay Christie and Sevu Reece are the remaining options for coach Ian Foster.

Foster looks forward to the Rugby Championship’s final round and says his side is prepared for the challenge the Wallabies will pose.

“This year’s Rugby Championship is so tightly contested and our group is continuing to make shifts to improve,” Foster said.

“We are determined to finish the tournament strongly and we know that Australia will throw everything at us. This is what Test match rugby is all about and we can’t wait.

“Saturday’s sold-out double-header at Eden Park is special for our two national teams. We are right in behind the Black Ferns as they take on Japan and we all wish them well.”

The team

New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Ethan de Groot
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 23 Sevu Reece

Date: Saturday, September 24
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:05 local (08:05 BST, 07:05 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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