RTS earns first run-on start for All Blacks

Sports

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Stephen Perofeta have been named in the All Blacks’ starting 15 for the first time in a much-changed line-up for the Test against Japan in Tokyo on Saturday.

Tuivasa-Sheck will start at inside centre alongside Braydon Ennor, with Perofeta starting at fullback in Ian Foster’s team.

Halfback Finlay Christie will play his second Test in the No. 9 jersey, with incumbent Aaron Smith providing cover from the bench. Richie Mo’unga will direct traffic at fly-half.

Despite some relatively new faces in the backline, Foster has named a strong forward pack, with Sam Cane back to lead the side.

Midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown returns on the bench after missing the start of the season with injury.

“This northern tour is going to be huge,” Foster said in a statement.

“We see four incredibly tough Tests ahead and this one against Japan will ask some serious questions of us.

“We want to show that we are ready to respond.”

A number of first-choice players will miss the Japan test due to injury and personal reasons, including lock Sam Whitelock and the Barrett brothers.

New Zealand won back-to-back Tests against Australia to successfully defend their Rugby Championship title in September.

After Japan, the All Blacks travel to Europe to face Wales, Scotland and England.

NEW ZEALAND: Stephen Perofeta, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, -Caleb Clarke, Richie Mo’unga, Finlay Christie, Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Cane, Shannon Frizell, Tupou Vaa’i, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Dane Coles, George Bower

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Tyrel Lomax, Patrick Tuipulotu, Dalton Papali’i, Aaron Smith, David Havili, Anton Lienert-Brown

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