The matchday 23 is as follows (Super Rugby Club, Province)
1: Xavier Numia (Hurricanes, Wellington)
2: Ricky Riccitelli (Blues, Taranaki)
3: Jermaine Ainsley (Highlanders, Otago)
4: Naitoa Ah Kuoi (Chiefs, Bay of Plenty)
5: Quinten Strange (Crusaders, Tasman)
6: Akira Ioane (Blues, Auckland)
7: Du’Plessis Kirifi (Hurricanes, Wellington)
8: Christian Lio-Willie (Crusaders, Otago)
9: Brad Weber – Co-Captain (Chiefs, Hawke’s Bay)
10: Stephen Perofeta (Blues, Taranaki)
11: Etene Nanai-Seturo (Chiefs, Counties Manukau)
12: Jack Goodhue (Crusaders, Northland)
13: Alex Nankivell (Chiefs, Tasman)
14: Bailyn Sullivan (Hurricanes, Waikato)
15: Ruben Love (Hurricanes, Wellington)
Reserves: Tyrone Thompson (Chiefs, Hawke’s Bay), Ollie Norris (Chiefs, Waikato), Pouri Rakete-Stones (Hurricanes, Hawke’s Bay), Cameron Suafoa (Blues, North Harbour), Billy Harmon – Co-Captain (Highlanders, Canterbury), Folau Fakatava (Highlanders, Hawke’s Bay), Brett Cameron (Hurricanes, Manawatū), Sam Gilbert (Highlanders, Otago)
All Blacks XV Head Coach Leon MacDonald has named his playing 23 to challenge Japan XV in the first of two match series.
The starting front row features loosehead prop Xavier Numia, tighthead prop Jermaine Ainsley and Ricky Riccitelli at hooker. Tyrone Thompson, Ollie Norris and Pouri Rakete-Stones will provide impact off the bench.
Naitoa Ah Kuoi and Quinten Strange make up the locking duo, with Akira Ioane, Christian Lio-Willie and Du’Plessis Kirifi the loose forward trio. With Co-Captain Billy Harmon and Cameron Suafoa on the bench.
In the backs, experienced All Blacks capped players Brad Weber (Co-Captain) and Stephen Perofeta will take the field at nine and ten, alongside Jack Goodhue and Alex Nankivell in the mid-field at 12 and 13. Folau Fakatava will provide impact off the bench.
The back three is made up of Etene Nanai-Seturo on the left wing, Bailyn Sullivan on the right wing and Ruben Love starting at fullback. With Sam Gilbert and Brett Cameron named to be injected off the bench.
All Blacks XV Head Coach Leon MacDonald said: “We are anticipating a huge challenge from Japan on Saturday, they are a strong team and we know they have been preparing intensely for the next two matches.
MacDonald has also named Brad Weber and Billy Harmon as Co-Captains of the All Blacks XV and is expecting their experience as leaders to be an asset across the team.
“With a short lead in to kick off, it’s about balancing the team with experienced players and emerging talent. The players are all out to showcase their skills and strength as a team on the international stage. It’s going to be an incredibly proud moment for the team and their whanau, especially for those players representing New Zealand for the first time.”
All Blacks XV Lipovitan-D Challenge Cup fixtures:
SATURDAY 8 JULY – Japan XV v All Blacks XV, 8.00PM NZST, CHICHIBUNOMIYA RUGBY STADIUM, TOKYO
SATURDAY 15 JULY – Brave Blossoms v All Blacks XV, 9.05PM NZST EGAO KENKO STADIUM, KUMAMOTO