International Rugby

All Blacks to take on Japan with new captain and second string side

The All Blacks have named a weakened side to the previous one that took on Australia, with two new caps also starting against Japan this weekend.

Loose forward Dalton Papali’i and midfielder Matt Proctor will be running on for their first tests amongst the starting XV, while six players should make their test debuts from the bench.

Luke Whitelock will lead the side in what will be his first ever test as a captain, having captained the All Blacks against a French XV last year. Returning hooker Dane Coles was offered the captaincy but turned it down in order to focus on his own transition back into international rugby.

He’s a natural leader,” said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen in speaking of Whitelock.

“(He) did a fantastic job leading the team against the French XV last year, and will be ably assisted by the senior players in the team.

“While this is a relatively inexperienced group, the expectation is that when you pull on the black jersey, then a top performance is required.”

The All Blacks have put a combined 282 points past Japan in the the three times that the sides have met, yet Hansen warned not to underestimate them.

“We’re expecting Japan to play a high-tempo, hit-and-run game as opposed to having an arm wrestle,” he said.

“No doubt they’ll have a trick or two up their sleeve. So we’ll need to be sharp of mind and bring our own physicality and intensity to the contest.”

New Zealand

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Luke Whitelock (captain), 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ofa Tuungafasi

Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Dillon Hunt, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Mitch Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 George Bridge

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