Three Tongans for All Blacks Scotland test

Three Tongans join the playing team for the All Black’s test against Scotland at Murrayfield, Edinburgh on Saturday.

Charles Piutau will play number 11 while Malakai Fekitoa returns after a two weeks break. Augustine Pulu is also in the team.

The All Blacks play Scotland at Murrayfield this Saturday 15 November. (Kick-off: 5.30PM GMT, 6.30AM Sunday 16 November NZDT)

The team is (Test caps in brackets):

Starting XV:

  1. Joe Moody (6)
  2. James Parsons *
  3. Charlie Faumuina (25)
  4. Jeremy Thrush (10)
  5. Dominic Bird (1)
  6. Richie McCaw – captain (135)
  7. Sam Cane (21)
  8. Victor Vito (25)
  9. TJ Perenara (9)
  10. Daniel Carter (101)
  11. Charles Piutau (12)
  12. Ryan Crotty (11)
  13. Malakai Fekitoa (7)
  14. Colin Slade (15)
  15. Ben Smith (36)

Reserves:

  1. Dane Coles (25)
  2. Wyatt Crockett (34)
  3. Ben Franks (40)
  4. Luke Romano (16)
  5. Liam Messam (38)
  6. Augustine Pulu (1)
  7. Sonny Bill Williams (21)
  8. Julian Savea (31)

Two of the locks, Brodie Retallick (shoulder) and Patrick Tuipulotu (shoulder), were not considered for selection, due to injury. As a result, lock Dominic Bird, who, like Parsons, was called into the All Blacks as injury cover, will start, with Luke Romano coming off the bench. Loose forward Jerome Kaino (knee) was also not considered for selection.

The matchday 23 for Saturday features 11 players from the 23 which played England last week. From last week’s starting XV, Ben Smith moves to fullback with Colin Slade on the wing, while skipper Richie McCaw will clock up a new first in his stellar career: he is making his first Test start in the number six jersey, to make way for Sam Cane at openside flanker.

Joining Smith and Slade in the back three is Charles Piutau, while there is a new midfield combination, with Ryan Crotty at 12 and Malaki Fekitoa at centre. Daniel Carter makes his first Test start of the year at first five-eighth in his 102nd Test, with TJ Perenara at halfback.

In the forwards, Victor Vito is at number eight alongside McCaw and Cane in the back row. Bird will play his second Test at lock alongside Jeremy Thrush, while the new front row will see Joe Moody and Charlie Faumuina prop alongside Parsons.

On the bench, the forward reserves are hooker Dane Coles, props Ben Franks and Wyatt Crockett, Romano and loose forward Liam Messam, while the back reserves are halfback Augustine Pulu, midfielder Sonny Bill Williams and winger Julian Savea.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “We have had a good week’s preparation so far, there is a spring in the step of the team and real excitement looking forward to the Scottish Test.

“We have a lot of respect for the Scots and, like all Northern Hemisphere teams, know that they will bring a lot of physicality to the park. However, we also expect them to want to move the ball, particularly from any turnovers or free kicks. That style certainly suited them last week and makes them, we believe, even more dangerous.

“Though we have made changes to our team, there is an expectation that those who fill the jersey will deliver quality performances.”

James Parsons – mini biography

27-year-old James Parsons has made the most of his opportunities since breaking into the Super Rugby ranks with the Blues wider training group in 2012. He cemented his position in 2013 as back-up to Keven Mealamu, getting regular starts in the number two jersey, and captained the Blues against the touring French team that year. A proud North Harbour and Takapuna club man, he made his provincial debut in 2007 and has played more than 70 times for the province, including the training match against the All Blacks earlier this year. A relatively late bloomer at the top level of rugby, Parsons spent his time away from the rugby field studying extramurally and has a degree in marketing and finance.

* The All Blacks and Scotland have played each other 29 times, with the All Blacks winning 27 times and two draws. The last Test was on the All Blacks’ Northern Tour in 2012, with the team winning 51-22 that day.

* Last weekend’s win over England saw the All Blacks record their 400th Test match win.

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