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Oct 31 (Reuters) - Giant lock Dominic Bird and winger Frank Halai will make their New Zealand debuts in the test against Japan in Tokyo on Saturday.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and flyhalf Dan Carter, who have been troubled by injuries this year, were also named in the starting line-up on Thursday as they attempt to get match-time before the wld champions travel to Europe to face France, England and Ireland in November internationals.
Halai and Bird, at 2.06 metres the tallest ever All Black, will be joined by two other uncapped players, prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and flanker Luke Whitelock, who have been named on the bench.
“It is a great opportunity for our ‘less capped’ players to drive the All Blacks week and preparation, which will then culminate in Saturday’s performance,” coach Steve Hansen said in a statement.
“The three selectors have been very mindful of using this game to gather some more information on our younger players but also using it to provide McCaw and Carter with some game time.”
Saturday’s match will be the first between the two sides outside the World Cup after the All Blacks defeated Japan 83-7 two years ago and 145-17 in 1995.
15-Beauden Barrett, 14-Charles Piutau, 13-Ben Smith, 12-Francis Saili, 11-Frank Halai, 10-Daniel Carter, 9-Tawera Kerr-Barlow; 8-Richie McCaw, 7-Sam Cane, 6-Steven Luatua, 5-Dominic Bird, 4-Jeremy Thrush, 3-Ben Franks, 2-Dane Coles, 1-Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16-Andrew Hore, 17-Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18-Charlie Faumuina, 19-Brodie Retallick, 20-Luke Whitelock, 21-Aaron Smith, 22-Tom Taylor, 22-Ryan Crotty (Reporting by Alison Wildey, Editing by Ed Osmond)