TEST PREVIEW: All Blacks v Italy (Rome)

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MATCH DETAILS: All Blacks v Italy, Saturday 6 November 2pm CET, (Sunday 2am NZT), Stadio Olimpico, Rome.


Played: 14

Last time: All Blacks 66, Italy 3 (24 November 2018)

Referee: Karl Dickson


The All Blacks have the chance to break Argentina’s long-standing record of most tries scored in a single season when they take the field in Rome. The Pumas record of 92 tries has stood since 2003 but is under serious threat from the All Blacks who have already scored 89 tries in 12 Tests in 2021. Four tries at Stadio Olimpico will see the All Blacks claim the world record from the Pumas and provide a chance for a landmark 100 tries in the season with Tests against Ireland and France remaining on the Tudor Northern Tour. The All Blacks also sit on third place in most points scored in a calendar year with 628 points scored so far in 2021. England are in second place with their haul of 644 points in 2003 and South Africa sit at the top of the table with 658 points scored in 2007.


Speaking of tries, Jordie Barrett will have fond memories of his four try haul against Italy at Stadio Olimpico back in 2018. Playing on the right wing in that game, Barrett crossed for four tries in the 66-3 victory. Now entrenched in the 15 jersey, Barrett starts from the bench in Rome with Damian McKenzie getting the nod at fullback. McKenzie was no slouch against Italy back in 2018 either, scoring a hat-trick of tries.


The All Blacks will field one of their youngest ever locking combinations with Tupou Vaa’i (21) and Josh Lord (20) taking over from the experienced pairing of Samuel Whitelock and Brodie Retallick from the Wales Test. It will be Vaa’i’s fourth start in his 10th Test while Lord gets his first Test start after making his debut against the USA Eagles in Washington DC. Coach Ian Foster said: “Tupou is a quality footballer and we have seen more signs of that in the last two weeks, while Josh on his first tour has learnt things quickly and has been really clear-headed at training. It’s his first start, which is exciting for him, and we’ve got a lot of faith in him.”


Former All Blacks fullback Kieran Crowley will coach Italy for the first time when they host the world’s number one ranked side in Rome. After losing all five games of their 2021 Six Nations campaign before having their July tour to New Zealand cancelled due to the impact of Covid-19, Crowley said the Test against the All Blacks would be a good ‘line in the sand’ for his team. “It is certainly a challenging one. You look at their last game against Wales. I don't think Wales played badly, but they still scored 54 points against them. They are an outstanding team on great form, it doesn't matter who they put out there," Crowley said.




1: Danilo Fischetti 2: Gianmarco Lucchesi 3: Marco Riccioni 4: Marco Fuser 5: David Sisi 6: Sebastian Negri 7: Michele Lamaro 8: Renato Giammarioli 9: Stephen Varney 10: Paolo Garbisi 11: Monty Ioane 12: Marco Zanon 13: Juan Ignacio Brex 14: Federico Mori 15: Matteo Minozzi

Reserves: 16:Luca Bigi 17: Ivan Nemer 18: Pietro Ceccarelli 19: Niccolo Cannone 20: Federico Ruzza 21: Braam Steyn 22: Callum Braley 23: Carlo Canna

All Blacks (caps in brackets):

1. George Bower (9) 2. Dane Coles (77) 3.Tyrel Lomax (12) 4. Tupou Vaa’i (9) 5. Josh Lord (1) 6. Luke Jacobson (11) 7. Sam Cane – captain (75) 8. Hoskins Sotutu (9) 9. Brad Weber (15) 10. Richie Mo’unga  (29) 11. George Bridge (17) 12.  Quinn Tupaea (5) 13.  Braydon Ennor (3) 14.  Sevu Reece (15) 15. Damian McKenzie (38)

Reserves: 16. Asafo Aumua (5) 17. Ethan de Groot (3) 18. Ofa Tuungafasi (42) 19. Samuel Whitelock (129) 20.  Shannon Frizell (15) 21. Finlay Christie (4) 22. David Havili (12) 23. Jordie Barrett (32)


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