Saili set for All Black debut

Wed, 04 Sep 2013 17:46
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We have complete faith in his ability

Blues centre Francis Saili will make his All Black debut in the Rugby Championship Test against the Pumas at Waikato Stadium on Saturday.

The matchday 23 features 739 Test caps and five injury-enforced changes from the team that won the Bledisloe Cup two weeks ago in Wellington.

Saili replaces Ma'a Nonu at inside centre, Charlie Faumuina starts at tighthead in place of Owen Franks and fit-again Dan Carter returns to the No.10 jersey in his 96th Test.

On the bench, Beauden Barrett replaces Colin Slade and Ben Franks makes up the numbers.

All Black coach Steve Hansen said: "With Ma'a's ongoing niggly ankle we have taken the opportunity to rest him and introduce Francis to international rugby and we want to congratulate him on his selection. We have complete faith in his ability to do the job. He is a very exciting, young player who has a multi-talented skill set that should suit Test rugby.

"It's also pleasing to see the return of both Dan and Beauden from their enforced injury layoffs. Their experience and skill sets will obviously be a great advantage to the All Blacks.

"With regard to the Argentineans, we are expecting a very physical encounter but also one that will see them use the flair and talent of their backline. It is a challenge that we are looking forward to and we are also looking forward to playing in Hamilton.

“As always, we have put a huge focus on our preparation and we know that anything less will not be good enough to get the performance that we are looking for."

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Charles Piutau.

Date: Saturday, September 7
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (04.35 Buenos Aires time; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)