All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has handed maiden starts to Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape in New Zealand’s biggest Test of the year — the decider of the three-match series against the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park.
Barrett, who is yet to be used in the Lions series having made his All Blacks debut against Samoa last month, has been thrown straight in at fullback for Saturday’s decider in a reshuffled New Zealand backline that has been hampered by injury and suspension.
Returning to the side on the wing is try-scoring sensation Julian Savea, who was controversially left out of the matchday squads for the first two Tests but is now afforded the chance to add to his haul of 46 international tries.
There’s a strong possibility 20-year-old that Barrett will take over the kicking duties from his brother Beauden, who missed three shots at goal last Saturday.
Jordie Barrett’s inclusion sees Israel Dagg move to the right wing with Waisake Naholo failing to recover from a concussion picked up in the second Test loss.
Jordie Barrett Phil Walter/Getty Images
Another big backline change is the inclusion of Ngani Laumape who has edged out recalled midfielder Malakai Fekitoa for a starting place in the centres.
Laumape was chucked into the spotlight for his international debut in the second Test after Sonny Bill Williams was red carded.
The Hurricanes midfielder will partner Anton Lienert-Brown in the centres with Fekitoa to provide cover from the bench.
All Blacks: J Barrett, Dagg, Lienert-Brown, Laumape, J Savea, B Barrett, Smith; Moody, Taylor, Franks, Retallick, Whitelock, Kaino, Cane, Read (capt).
Replacements: Harris, Crockett, Faumuina, S Barrett, A Savea, Perenara, Cruden, Fekitoa.
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Barrett, Laumape and Julian Savea to start in third Test
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