Foster makes nine changes to All Blacks squad to face Namibia

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  • Post published:September 14, 2023

New Zealand coach Ian Foster has made nine changes to his starting lineup to face Namibia in their second Pool A match of the Rugby World Cup on Friday.

The 27-13 loss to the hosts was the first time in World Cup history that the All Blacks lost a pool game.

“We had a plan on how we want to approach this and we have had to adapt that based on injuries and who is coming back but we are pretty satisfied that we have to rebound from round one. It is a key game for us to get right and we’ve selected accordingly,” said New Zealand coach Ian Foster.

“We certainly have got a couple of areas we really want to focus on and I’m probably not going to share what they are just yet.”

Sam Whitelock will play in his 148th international game for the three-time world champions. This will tie Richie McCaw for the most international games played by a player.

Only Alun Wyn Jones of Wales has played more games for his country than Whitelock and McCaw, with 171.

“It’s a massive occasion for Sam and for us as a team. I think he has been a warrior for this team for a long time and to equal someone like Richie is a massive achievement,” said Foster.

“We all know how much it means for him to pull on a black jersey and to do it for the 148th time is a very special occasion, one that we make sure we put a performance on that gives that record a lot of respect and celebrate it with him afterwards.

Whitelock is one of six players from the team that lost to France last Friday who are still on the team for the game in Toulouse.

Ardie Savea, who will be the team’s captain, Beauden Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Dalton Papali’i, and Nepo Laulala are the other players.

Foster said that injured captain Sam Cane “is probably not that close” to being ready. “Not as close as we would have liked to be to fit on Friday.”

Both half backs, Damian McKenzie at fly-half and Cam Roigard at scrum half, will be playing in their first World Cup.

“It’s been pretty surreal.” said Roigard. “Since I got named in the squad I was hoping this moment would eventuate so for it to be just around the corner is pretty exciting.”

New Zealand (15-1)

Beauden Barrett; Caleb Clarke, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku; Damian McKenzie, Cam Roigard, Ardie Savea (capt), Dalton Papali’i, Luke Jacobson; Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick; Nepo Laulala, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ofa Tuungafasi

Replacements: Dane Coles, Ethan de Groot, Fletcher Newell, Scott Barrett, Tupou Vaa’i; Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga. Rieko Ioane

Coach: Ian Foster (NZL)