New Zealand internationals Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Braydon Ennor have been named as the starting centres for the All Blacks XV’s clash with Ireland ‘A’ at the RDS Arena in Dublin on Friday night.
Head coach Leon MacDonald has selected a mix of experience and rising young talent for this fixture and there is a strong contingent of Crusaders and Chiefs players named in the matchday squad.
The All Blacks XV sees Brodie McAlister packing down at hooker while Aidan Ross and Tevita Mafileo are the starting props. Tyrone Thompson, Finlay Brewis and Tamaiti Williams have been named as the front-row replacements.
Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu will captain the side and he packs down alongside Josh Dickson in the second-row, while Luke Jacobson and Dominic Gardiner are the starting flankers and Marino Mikaele Tu’u completes the back-row as the number eight.
Crusaders duo Zach Gallagher and Christian Lio-Willie will provide cover for the second-row and loose forwards on the bench.
In the backline, an experienced combination of TJ Perenara (vice-captain) and Damian McKenzie will form the half-back combination with Cam Roigard and Josh Ioane named as the back-up players on the bench.
Tuivasa-Sheck and Ennor to continue Test partnership
The back three is made up of AJ Lam and Shaun Stevenson, who are the starting wings, while Ruben Love gets the nod at full-back. Alex Nankivell is named to make an impact off the bench as the final replacement.
MacDonald is preparing his charges for a difficult assignment.
“We are anticipating a huge challenge from Ireland A on Friday,” he said. “They are a top tier, physical team with strong attack and defence, as we saw earlier this year against the Māori All Blacks.”
He is excited for Tuipulotu and Perenara to lead the All Blacks XV as captain and vice-captain and is expecting their leadership to be an asset across the team.
“With a short lead in to this first match, we’ve balanced out experience with younger rising talent,” said MacDonald. “The players are all out to showcase their immense skills and strength as a team, they’re excited to get this opportunity to play on an international scale and to represent New Zealand in what will be a proud moment for players and their whanau.”
All Blacks XV: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 AJ Jam, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Luke Jacobson, 6 Dominic Gardiner, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Tevita Mafileo, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 Aidan Ross
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Thompson, 17 Finlay Brewis, 18 Tamaiti Williams, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Christian Lio-Willie, 21 Cam Roigard, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Alex Nankivell
Date: Friday, November 4
Venue: RDS Arena, Dublin
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal (England), Luc Ramos (France)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)