All Blacks vs Samoa highlights: International rugby live scores, blog

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    The All Blacks’ 2017 season gets underway tonight as the host a strong Manu Samoa side at Eden Park in Auckland with kick off from 6pm AEST.

    New Zealand has named potentially their strongest available lineup, holding nothing back in their one and only hit out before facing the British and Irish Lions in the upcoming Test series, and selections for the most part were to be expected.

    The major talking points from this squad is the selection of Ardie Savea at No.8 in regular Captains Kieran Reads place, still unavailable through injury and it will be interesting to observe his performance this evening and how he combines with Sam Cane, perhaps a pointer to plans later in the season.

    Ben Smith will captain the side from fullback in Read’s absence while Codie Taylor gets first crack at the hooker position with Dane Coles absent with concussion.

    On the bench, we see two potential debutants, loose forward cover Vaea Fifita and utility back Jordie Barrett named, accompanying his brother Scott on the bench while Beauden is starting a first five, three brothers named in the side and potentially we could see all three on the park at once, which would be a first for All Black rugby, accompanying both Saveas, starting this evening.

    The Samoan side selected is also close to full strength and will likely provide a stern test for the All Blacks despite the odds offered by the TAB and many will recognise a number of players who do, or have played in Super Rugby in the past.

    New Zealand fans will recall the likes of Kieron Fonotia, Alapati Leiua, Faifili Levave and Jack Lam, while Tim Nanai Williams still plays in New Zealand for the Chiefs and Tusiata Pisi also, who was the Sunwolves regular first five in the franchise’s inaugural season last year, while Rebels fans will remember front rower Paul Alo-Emile, named on the bench this evening.

    All Blacks by 20. I suspect that the All Blacks will have too much cohesion as a squad and greater depth on their bench and will win relatively comfortably in the end.

    Join us from 6pm AEST for kick off for what should be an entertaining and physical clash and don’t forget to have your say on the match as the action unfolds.

    A Rotundity and happy ex hooker who just loves Rugby really, oh and my kids and Kendra of course who lets me watch as much Rugby as I want, mostly. Follow Digby Ross on Twitter @Diggercane.

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