PREVIEW: All Blacks v Tonga (Mt Smart Stadium)

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Match details: All Blacks v Tonga, Saturday 3 July, 7.05pm (NZT), Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

 

Played: 6

First game: All Blacks 45, Tonga 9 (3 October 1999)

Last game: All Blacks 92, Tonga 7 (7 September 2019)

Referee: Mike Fraser

Tickets: allblacks.com/tickets

Watch: Broadcast Guide

 

A HISTORIC VENUE

Mt Smart Stadium will become the 15th Test venue in New Zealand for the All Blacks when they play Tonga on Saturday. The ground was established in 1967 and is most famously known as the home to the Warriors NRL team since 1995. It has also hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and was the home ground for New Zealand football's All Whites during their outstanding 1981-82 campaign to qualify for the World Cup in Spain in 1982.

DASHING DEBUTANTS

Several players will get their first taste of Test rugby on Saturday night. The All Blacks have named Chiefs mid-fielder Quinn Tupaea to start in his first Test at second five-eighth while George Bower, Ethan Blackadder and Finlay Christie are all poised to debut from the bench. Tonga have named an all-new side to the one that last faced the All Blacks in 2019. They have nine new caps in their starting fifteen, including a brand new loose forward trio in the form of Mateaki Kafatolu, Solomone Funaki and Sione Tu'ipolotu.

 

HAKA v SIPI TAU

One of the great spectacles in world sport will take place prior to kick-off when the All Blacks haka meets Tonga’s Sipi Tau. There will be much interest in who leads the All Blacks first haka of 2021 with regular haka leader TJ Perenara currently not with the squad.

 


COACH’S WORD

“Our whole group is excited. After Covid disrupted our season last year we felt a little bit distanced from our fans playing most of our games overseas, so what’s in front of us this weekend is very exciting." - All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster.

 

 

TEAMS

 

All Blacks (caps in brackets):

 

1: Karl Tu’inukuafe (17) 2: Dane Coles (74) 3: Angus Ta’avao (14) 4: Scott Barrett (40) 5: Samuel Whitelock (122) – captain 6: Akira Ioane (2) 7: Dalton Papalii (4) 8: Luke Jacobson (2) 9: Brad Weber (7) 10: Richie Mo’unga (22) 11: George Bridge (10) 12: Quinn Tupaea (new cap) 13: Rieko Ioane (33) 14: Will Jordan (2) 15: Damian McKenzie (27)

 

Reserves: 16: Asafo Aumua (1) 17: George Bower (new cap) 18: Tyrel Lomax (6) 19: Patrick Tuipulotu (35) 20: Ethan Blackadder (new cap) 21: Finlay Christie (new cap) 22: Beauden Barrett (88) 23: Jordie Barrett (23)

 

Tonga:

 

1: Duke Nginingini*, 2: Sam Moli*, 3: Sila Puafisi, 4: Don Lolo*, 5: Zane Kapeli, 6: Mateaki Kafatolu*, 7: Solomone Funaki*, 8: Sione Tu'ipolotu*, 9: Sonatane Takulua (captain), 10: Kalione Hala, 11: Penikolo Latu, 12: Nikolai Foliaki*, 13: Fine Inisi*, 14: Hosea Saumaki*, 15: James Faiva

 

Reserves: 16. Siua Maile, 17. Jethro Felemi, 18. Tau Koloamatangi*, 19. Harrison Mataele*, 20. Viliami Taulani*, 21. Nasi Manu, 22. Leon Fukofuka, 23. Walter Fifita*

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