Scott Barrett has switched to lock after a concussion sent Sam Whitelock out of the second Test against Ireland in Dunedin on Saturday night.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster, who revealed his team on Thursday, has been forced to tinker with his forward pack as 133 test veteran Whitelock made himself unavailable due to delayed concussion symptoms.
Another slot, Tupou Vaa’i, was also ineligible for selection after contracting Covid-19.
The absence of Whitelock and Vaa’i had led to Patrick Tuipulotu and Josh Dickson joining the squad earlier in the week.
Tuipulotu, who was originally ineligible to play in the Ireland series because he skipped Super Rugby Pacific to play in Japan, has been added to the bench. The NZ Rugby board approved a dispensation to allow him to join the squad.
The decision to move Barrett, who started as a blindside flanker last weekend when the All Blacks beat the Irish 42-19 in Auckland, to the second row alongside Brodie Retallick, meaning Dalton Papalii will wear the number 6 jersey in the Forsyth Barr Stage.
Papalii has been given the nod to start for Akira Ioane, who is not included in matchday 23.
Papalii, who confirmed on Thursday that he has re-signed with NZ Rugby and the Blues until 2024, is the only newcomer to the side to start the first Test.
The decision to promote the Blues skipper from the bench means Foster has chosen to keep skipper Sam Cane at openside flanker, and Ardie Savea at number 8.
By bringing Barrett into lock, the All Blacks sacrificed an extra-long lineout option, although Savea was efficient at the front of the set-piece in the first test.
With Cane, Papalii and Savea all starting in the back row, the All Blacks will line up a lighter, but arguably faster unit to fight Ireland in the breakdown. Papalii has played at No. 7 for most of his first-class career, with some Savea supporters still thinking he is the best option in that position.
However, in recent seasons, Savea has been asked to start at number 8 in the belief that it will give him more opportunities to compete as a ball runner.
Having played lock almost his entire career, Barrett was asked to start as a blindside flanker at Eden Park for the second time in 49 tests. His transition to the heart of the forward pack was not unexpected.
The backline remains the same as the one that started the first test.
Despite David Havili and Jack Goodhue being passed fit they were not available for the first test after contracting Covid last week, Quinn Tupaea will restart at number 12.
Tupaea, who scored a try after snapping a grubber from playmaker Beauden Barrett, produced an efficient outing along with midfield partner Rieko Ioane and deserved another chance to start.
Several changes have been made to the bank. Fullback/wing Will Jordan, who was scratched last week due to Covid, and uncapped halfback Folau Fakatava and uncapped prop Aidan Ross have been named in the reserves.
Jordan replaces Braydon Ennor. Ross and Fakatava fill in for Karl Tu’inukuafe and Finlay Christie respectively.
“While I was pleased with how we performed and the leadership shown in the first test match, we will really need to improve and improve in some key areas,” said Foster.
“We know the Irish will throw everything at us this week to keep the series alive. We’ve had challenges again this week, but we feel that this team has laid a foundation to build on and is desperate to improve against a very determined Irish side.”
Irish coach Andy Farrell announces his team today.
Captain Johnny Sexton is expected to start at number 10.
Despite leaving the field for an HIA and not returning, Sexton seems to have proved he suffered no ill effects after accidentally getting a knee on the head from Cane at Eden Park.
All Blacks Team: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (Captain), Dalton Papalii, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Codie Taylor, George arbor. Reservations: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross, Angus Ta’avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Pita Gus Sowakula, Folau Fakatava, Richie Mo’unga, Will Jordan.
All Blacks v Ireland, Second Test
Where: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.
When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday
Coverage: Sky Sport 1, live updates on Stuff
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