All Blacks name 3 Barrett brothers for Samoa test
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — The Barrett brothers will become the first trio of siblings to play in a rugby test for New Zealand when they line up in Friday’s Pacific Challenge match against Samoa.
Flyhalf Beauden will play his 50th test while utility back Jordie is set to make his debut from the bench, where he has been named beside lock Scott.
Ben Smith will captain New Zealand for the first time in the absence of Kieran Read, who is recovering from a broken thumb. He will become New Zealand’s 68th test captain and the first fullback to lead the All Blacks since Mils Muliaina in 2009.
Sonny Bill Williams will start at inside center in his first test since the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, combining in midfield with Anton Lienert Brown.
Julian Savea and Israel Dagg have been named on the wings, holding out Waisake Naholo who starred in the Highlanders win over the British and Irish Lions on Tuesday.
Ardie Savea takes Read’s place at No. 8 while Jerome Kaino returns from knee surgery to take his usual place on the blindside flank.
Codie Taylor will start at hooker in the absence of Dane Coles, who is recovering from concussion.
Uncapped lock Vaea Fifita has been named on the bench, also providing backrow cover, while Lima Sopoaga provides backup to Beauden Barrett at flyhalf as Aaron Cruden recovers from a knee injury.
Head coach Steve Hansen congratulated Smith on his appointment as captain.
“He’s been our vice-captain for a few years now and captain of the Highlanders where he’s been doing a fantastic job so was the logical choice,” Hansen said. “He leads by example and is an inspiration to his teammates.”
Hansen said while the match was planned to help the All Blacks prepare for the three-test series against the Lions, it was important in its own right.
“This is a test match against a quality and very capable opponent,” he said. “Samoa is about to kick off the qualifying stage of their Rugby World Cup campaign so this will make them even more dangerous.”
New Zealand and Samoa have met in seven previous tests, most recently in Apia in 2016 when the All Blacks won 25-16.
Wales will also play Tonga in the Pacific Challenge doubleheader at Eden Park on Friday.
New Zealand: Ben Smith (captain), Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Replacements: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Vaea Fifita, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Jordie Barrett.
Samoa: Ah See Tuala, Albert Nikoro, Kieron Fonotia, Alapati Leiua, Tim Nanai Williams, Tusi Pisi, Kahn Fotuali’i; Faifili Levave, Jack Lam, Piula Faasalele, Faatiga Lemalu, Chris Vui, Census Johnston, Maatulimanu Leiatua, Viliamu Afatia. Replacements: Seilala Lam, Nephi Leatigaga, Paul Alo-Emile, Taiasina Tuifua, Alafoti Faosiliva, Auvasa Falealii, D’Angelo Leuila, Ken Pisi.