Japan Test provides opportunities for new and returning All Blacks

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Injuries and the need to gain playing time at Test level were factors in the selection for a side looking to continue its growth as a one of the top ranked rugby nations in the world.

Fullback Stephen Perofeta said he was excited about having a start, there were some nerves, but he was looking forward to getting into action.

"It means everything to get a start. I've had my ups and downs before I was in this environment. But, I can look back and be proud of what I've done [to get here].

"But this is another challenge, a new challenge and this week I've tried to enjoy each moment and keep things real so come Saturday I am able to execute my role and have fun."

Japan will be skilful and will play a fast game. They employed quick taps, and the All Blacks would have to be alert when they wanted to play quickly.

Perofeta said the prospect of a fast game excited him, and he would be doing his bit to find space and contribute to the team.

Halfback Finlay Christie, having only his second start in 13 Tests, said he was looking to keep building on the performances he has put out during the year.

"It's awesome to get a start and I won't be taking it for granted."


Christie said he had seen what Perofeta had done for the Blues this year, and many in the side knew what he was capable of, and it was exciting.

When Perofeta did run, he was deceptive, he said.

"He doesn't look like he's running fast but he's flying, I can't keep up, that's for sure."

Starting second five-eighths Roger Tuivasa-Sheck said his development during the season had been about adapting his game by gaining an understanding through observation, conversation and consultation.

"There's a lot of people that have played their role and helped me get to starting in the Test match, so I'm grateful for that, and am looking forward to going out there and performing, and making sure I get my job done.

"This is another massive chapter in my learning. The ultimate dream is to be part of that World Cup squad next year and the bonus for me was to be called up this year."

Ennor, who is playing his sixth Test, said it was his first time in Japan, and he was excited to be playing again for the All Blacks after his injuries and missing out on selection.

But he was thankful for the opportunity when he was called up and is looking forward to playing with Tuivasa-Sheck for the first time.

While there was a difference to the usual All Blacks side, Ennor told the media this was the sort of opportunity players worked for, and they were all looking forward to their chances on Saturday.


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