Sam Whitelock returns as captain with Finlay Christie making his first run-on start as All Blacks take on USA in Washington
It will be a special day for new All Blacks lock, 20-year-old Josh Lord, who has been named on the bench and will have huge experience around him for his first Test match, with All Blacks Captain Samuel Whitelock returning at starting lock, alongside Tupou Vaa’i.
In the starting front row, prop Ethan de Groot gets his first Test start after two appearances off the bench this year, hooker 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,
The starting loose forwards are the exciting young trio of Luke Jacobson at six, Dalton Papalii at seven and number eight Hoskins Sotutu, with the hugely experienced Sam Cane making his welcome return to the national side via the bench, after missing the international season to undergo chest muscle surgery. He will be playing his 75th Test.
In the backs, it’s a first Test start for halfback Finlay Christie with Richie Mo’unga at 10. The inside pairing sees Quinn Tupaea come in at 12 and Braydon Ennor, in his first Test start, is 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, first five-eighth Beauden Barrett and Anton Lienert-Brown ready to make impact from the bench.
This will be the fifth time the All Blacks and USA have played each other, with the last Test in Chicago in 2014, and is the first Test of the All Blacks Tudor Northern Tour.
Chiefs and Taranaki lock Josh Lord set to make his debut from bench.
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.
1. Ethan de Groot (2)
2. Asafo Aumua (4)
3. Angus Ta’avao (19)
4. Samuel Whitelock (127) - captain
5. Tupou Vaa’i (7)
6. Luke Jacobson (10)
7. Dalton Papalii (9)
8. Hoskins Sotutu (8)
9. Finlay Christie (3)
10. Richie Mo’unga (27)
11. George Bridge (16)
12. Quinn Tupaea (4)
13. Braydon Ennor (2)
14. Will Jordan (9)
15. Damian McKenzie (37)
16. Dane Coles (76)
17. George Bower (8)
18. Tyrel Lomax (10)
19. Josh Lord - new cap
20. Sam Cane (74)
21. TJ Perenara (75)
22. Beauden Barrett (98)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (53)