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Christie gets first start, Cane returns for All Blacks vs USA

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21st October, 2021
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Finlay Christie will start at halfback for the first time as the All Blacks named a team with one debutant for Sunday’s (AEST) match against United States.

Lock Josh Lord, 20, has been named on the bench and play alongside captain Sam Whitelock or Tupou Vaa’i.

Prop Ethan de Groot wins a first Test start after two appearances off the bench this campaign, Asafo Aumua gets his second Test start of the year and Angus Ta’avao provides experience at tighthead prop.

George Bower and Tyrel Lomax are the prop reserves, with Dane Coles, making his eagerly-awaited return to the All Blacks, on the bench,

Sam Cane makes his welcome return to the national side via the bench, after missing the international season to undergo chest muscle surgery.

Selectors have gone for youth in the loose forwards with Luke Jacobson at six, Dalton Papalii at seven and Hoskins Sotutu at eight.

Christie will partner No.10 Richie Mo’unga at 10 with Quinn Tupaea come in at 12 and Braydon Ennor, in his first Test start, at centre.

Will Jordan and George Bridge are on the wings and Damian McKenzie is at fullback. The All Blacks will have huge international experience in the back reserves, with halfback TJ Perenara, flyhalf Beauden Barrett and Anton Lienert-Brown.

This will be the fifth meeting between the teams, with the last Test in Chicago in 2014, and is the first Test of the All Blacks TNorthern Tour.

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All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said: “We’ve had a great week’s build-up here in Washington DC. The early part of the week was about recovering from our travel and getting clarity around some concepts in our game and we have slowly been building in intensity and getting into our work.

“The chance for us to play in a new city and new stadium is pretty special and the group is really excited and looking forward to the occasion. It’s time to get back into our groove after our break in Australia and with a number of players having not played for awhile. It’s time to get our game going again and we are ready to go.”

Speaking on the newest All Black, Foster said: “Josh Lord is a young man who’s been really enthusiastic since he came in. He’s bringing a lot of energy and learning a lot and we’re looking forward to seeing him go.”

On the players making their first Test starts, Foster added: “Ethan (de Groot) has been raring to go in recent weeks. We’re really excited for him, he’s been training well and he’s a quality player with a big future.

“Finlay has made the most of his opportunities and he just keeps growing his game and getting better and better and we’re delighted at how he’s going. Braydon has had a year disrupted by injury but he’s back. He’s running fast and we’re again looking forward to seeing how he goes.”

The All Blacks and USA will be playing for the 1874 Cup which references the year rugby was first played in the United States, a collegiate match between McGill and Harvard University.

The game will also be keenly watched in the context of the USA’s declared bid to host the 2027 or 2031 RWC tournaments. Australia has also said it will bid in 2027.

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