All Blacks look to continue gains in second Test - Foster

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As a result of lock Sam Whitelock’s delayed onset concussion, Scott Barrett has been moved back to lock from the blindside of the scrum with Dalton Papalii taking the No6 jersey.

 

Prop Aidan Ross and halfback Folau Fakatava are set to make their debuts from the bench while outside back Will Jordan was also named on the bench. Patrick Tuipulotu has returned early to the side as lock back-up.

 

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said Whitelock’s unavailability was disappointing and he was also disappointed for Tupou Vai’i who was a form lock and it was a missed opportunity for him.

 

The selectors had indicated they wanted to try Papalii at blindside flank while they wanted to build on the first Test win, and in the rest of the selection they went with players who had time last week in order to advance what they learned. 

 

“We felt that making too many changes now would take us back a cog in terms of that learning,” he said.

 

Ideally, they would have wanted to have another look at Barrett on the blindside flank, but that wasn’t possible and Papalii was given the role.

“He’s a different six, but it’s a hard ground under a roof. We expect the game to be fast, and I think Dalton is a physical player in his own right, but he’s also quick and offers a different skill set in the position,” he said.

 

Blindside flanker Akira Ioane, prop Nepo Laulala and second five-eighths David Havili, who missed the first Test were right, but each had niggles and the selection preferred gave them another week to ensure they were at their best.

 

Jordan was regarded as a day ahead aerobically of the others who suffered Covid and was able to do a little more and felt comfortable doing that.

 

“He’s hit the ground running,” he said.

 

Fakatava will make his Test debut in front of his home Super Rugby crowd and Foster said he wanted him to go out and do what he did best.

 

“He’s really clear over the last two or three weeks about the role of a 9 [halfback], but the flip side of it is that he has got his own little way of expressing himself that we don’t want to inhibit either. We want him to do his basic job and get excited about the little holes that he might be able to find later on,” he said.

 

Patrick Tuipulotu had worked hard on his fitness while playing in Japan and had returned leaner and after seeing him working with the side over the past few days it was great to see him back, Foster said.

 

In a three-Test series the second week was always tough. For New Zealand this week it meant they had a chance to win the series while Ireland, who showed last week how much they wanted the series, so they would be desperate to keep the series alive.

 

 

“We shouldn’t be surprised that we have to go up and progress and we’ve spoken about that. But talking is one thing and doing is another thing, but we’re pretty determined,” he said.

 

Ireland would also be looking to improve while driven by a desire to keep the series alive.

 

“They’re a smart rugby team, and they are trying to evolve what they do as well. I think everyone is in that space nowadays. 

 

“We saw a team [in the first Test] that’s got a pretty good understanding of what they want to achieve, so their clarity of roles, and their intentions, and how they move collectively as a group, is really strong. 

 

“It’s probably their best strength so that makes them a hard team to break down.”

 

They wouldn’t have enjoyed the first Test loss so they would come back strong, Foster said.

 

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