Marlborough Express

Tuivasa-sheck puts his hand up


Ian Foster had to take a punt for this skirmish against Japan in Tokyo.

He hasn’t disappoint­ed — but there is a caveat.

While All Blacks coach Foster has named an unfamiliar matchday 23 for the test against the Brave Blossoms tomorrow night, he has elected to retain six players who featured in the 40-14 win over the Wallabies to clinch the Rugby Championsh­ip title on September 24.

One of most notable selections is that of Roger Tuivasa-sheck, who has been listed to start at second five-eighth.

Former NRL star Tuivasashe­ck has only made two appearance­s as a replacemen­t in tests since swapping codes last year, a reflection of Foster’s need to win games during a turbulent season that provided little freedom in terms of experiment­ation and very nearly resulted in him being sacked by NZ Rugby.

Stephen Perofeta has also been granted his first appearance in the run-on XV, and will start at fullback. Perofeta, like Tuivasashe­ck, has had to bide his time in his rookie internatio­nal season after being limited to a brief appearance against Argentina in Christchur­ch in late August.

Midfield back Anton Lienertbro­wn who hasn’t played in 2022 because of a serious shoulder injury, has been named in the reserves.

Of the half-dozen players who made appearance­s against the Wallabies, lock Brodie Retallick, first-five Richie Mo’unga and left wing Caleb Clarke have been retained in the starting lineup. Hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho, prop Tyrel Lomax and and halfback Aaron Smith have been listed in the reserves. Captain Sam Cane, who didn’t play in Auckland because of injury, will start at openside flanker.

The reality is Foster had to be bold in his selections for this game, before the All Blacks head further north for the tests against

Wales, Scotland and England, as he seeks valuable insights into his squad ahead of next year’s World Cup in France.

Not that the shackles are off the players. Far from it. They will need to prove to Foster that they are capable of sticking to his instructio­ns, and not grab low hanging fruit on attack for their own personal gratificat­ion.

While the All Blacks have won all four of their tests against Japan in handsome fashion, the most recent 69-31 win in 2018 was the narrowest margin between the sides, it would be reckless for them to expect an easy ride against the 2019 World Cup quarterfin­alists.

Any side that has former All Blacks tough man Jamie Joseph, who is assisted by fellow Kiwi Tony Brown, as the boss is always under strict instructio­ns to sweat buckets and, if necessary, the odd drop of claret.

Japan will want to play at pace, and with passion. The key for the All Blacks is not to match that, and be discipline­d.

Not considered for selection were senior lock Sam Whitelock, a late arrival because a session on the family trampoline caused an inner-ear injury, and Will Jordan, who also has an inner-ear complaint and is still in New Zealand, weren’t considered.

None of the Barrett trio have been picked. Beauden, Scott and Jordie were scheduled to join the squad at a later date, after staying in New Zealand to attend the funeral of their grandmothe­r.

 ?? ??
 ?? ??
 ?? ??
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand