April 19, 2021, 7:31

Luke Whitelock to skipper All Blacks against French XV

Luke Whitelock to skipper All Blacks against French XV

Luke Whitelock will captain a New Zealand side containing six new All Blacks against a French XV on Tuesday as coach Steve Hansen continues to build depth ahead of the 2019 World Cup. 

With the exception of Liam Squire, who is returning to match fitness following illness, the All Blacks have opted to rest their frontline Test players.

The largely second-string squad includes uncapped Jack Goodhue in the run-on side with newcomers Atu Moli, Akira Ioane, Dillon Hunt, Mitchell Drummond and Richie Mo’unga on the bench.

Prop Tim Perry and wing Matt Duffie made their debuts for the All Blacks against the Barbarians in the tour opener and have yet to play a Test.

This match does not carry Test status either and no caps will be awarded.

It will be only the second All Blacks appearance for Whitelock, who was called into the squad after Jerome Kaino was injured in the tour opener against the Barbarians.

The younger brother of 94-Test lock Sam Whitelock, played 19 minutes as a replacement against Japan four years ago.

He will be the third captain in as many matches on tour after Beauden Barrett led the side in the 31-22 win over the Barbarians and regular skipper Kieran Read was in charge for the 38-18 win in the Test against France on the weekend.

The two most experienced players to front against the French XV, a midweek fixture added to the itinerary for the All Blacks to blood new players, are halves Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Lima Sopoaga with 40 Tests between them.

Crusaders halves Drummond and Mo’unga provide the only backline cover on the bench in their first selection as All Blacks.

Hansen said the match will allow the reigning world champions “to continue to grow our depth, which will not only bode well for the here and now, but also 2019 and well beyond.

“This is another exciting opportunity for a young group of men to go out and experience what it’s like to wear the All Blacks jersey and deal with all the pressures that come with that.”

New Zealand: 15 David Havili, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Seta Tamanivalu, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 1 Tim Perry, 2 Nathan Harris, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 5 Dominic Bird, 6 Liam Squire, 7 Ardie Savea, 8 Luke Whitelock (c).

Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Dillon Hunt, 22 Mitch Drummond, 23 Richie Mo’unga

Source: skysports.com

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