Sam Whitelock to equal Richie McCaw’s record as All Blacks ring the changes for second Rugby World Cup clash

Colin Newboult
Sam Whitelock for All Blacks during Rugby World Cup clash with France in 2023

Sam Whitelock for All Blacks during Rugby World Cup clash with France in 2023

Ian Foster has selected a much-changed New Zealand team for their next Rugby World Cup Pool A encounter against Namibia on Friday.

Beauden Barrett keeps his place at full-back while Anton Lienert-Brown remains in the midfield, but there are five new players in the backline.

Caleb Clarke and Leicester Fainga’anuku join Barrett in the back three, with David Havili coming in at centre and Lienert-Brown shifting to 13.

New half-back pair

Damian McKenzie gets an opportunity in the number 10 jersey, and he combines with youngster Cam Roigard at half-back.

Up front, there are fewer alterations, with Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali’i, Sam Whitelock and Nepo Laulala retaining their places from last weekend’s defeat to France.

Savea captains the team in the absence of Sam Cane, who is still not quite ready after suffering a minor back injury. Papali’i and Luke Jacobson complete the loose trio, while in front of them, Whitelock is set to match Richie McCaw’s cap record for the All Blacks.

The second-row is poised to make his 148th appearance for the national team, equalling the legendary McCaw. It is, therefore, apt that Brodie Retallick joins him at lock as they form that starting partnership for a 66th time in Tests, extending their world record.

Finally, in the front-row, Samisoni Taukei’aho gets a start at hooker, with Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Laulala joining him at the coalface.

On the bench, there is plenty experience in Dane Coles, Scott Barrett, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga and Rieko Ioane providing cover. Ethan de Groot, Fletcher Newell and Tupou Vaa’i are the other replacements.

“We are expecting a very tough Namibian side to test us on Friday,” said All Blacks head coach Foster.

“Whilst we were disappointed with the result in the first round, it hasn’t moved our focus from what we need to do to in our pool games.

“This game is vital for us to grow, and we can’t wait to get to Toulouse and test ourselves.”

The team

New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Caleb Clarke, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cam Roigard, 8 Ardie Savea (c), 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Tupou Vaa’i, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Rieko Ioane

Date: Friday, September 15
Venue: Stadium de Toulouse
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 BST, 19:00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

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