Luke Whitelock to captain All Blacks against French XV
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Single-test backrower Luke Whitelock will captain the All Blacks in Wednesday’s match against a French XV.
Whitelock was only called into the New Zealand squad as a replacement for Jerome Kaino, who has already returned home with a knee injury. He is the third captain the All Blacks have used on tour after Beauden Barrett, who led the team against the Barbarians, and Kieran Read, who was captain against France.
Read is also currently on the injured list after leaving the field with a slight groin strain during Saturday’s match.
Whitelock, brother of lock Sam, played his only test for New Zealand against Japan in 2013.
The All Blacks have named a new-look side for the match against the French selection, resting their test lineup for matches against Scotland and Wales. The exception is test flanker Liam Squire who will play after missing the match against France because of a virus.
Ardie Savea will also start in the backrow after being displaced from the bench in last weekend’s test by Matt Todd.
Center Jack Goodhue will play his first match for the All Blacks after missing the game against the Barbarians because of mumps. Winger Matt Duffie, and props Tim Perry and Jeff Toomaga-Allen will start a match in the All Blacks jersey for the first time, while prop Atu Moli, flankers Akira Ioane and Dillon Hunt, scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond and flyhalf Richie Mo’unga are likely to make their first appearances off the bench.
“This is another exciting opportunity for a young group of men to go out and experience what it’s like to wear the All Blacks jersey and deal with all the pressures that come with that,” All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said.
“Whilst Luke Whitelock is only playing his second game for the All Blacks, he was an obvious choice as captain given his experience and leadership as captain of both the Highlanders and Canterbury team.”
All Blacks hooker Dane Coles will be sidelined for up to six months after rupturing a knee ligament during Saturday’s test against France in Paris.
New Zealand is not seeking a replacement as it has three other hookers in its current tour squad.
New Zealand: David Havili, Matt Duffie, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Seta Tamanivalu, Lima Sopoaga, Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Luke Whitelock (captain), Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Dominic Bird, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Nathan Harris, Tim Perry. Replacements: Asafo Aumua, Atu Moli, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Akira Ioane, Dillon Hunt, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo’unga.