June 14, 2017 / 3:07 AM / 2 months ago

Samoa's Fonotia to make test debut against All Blacks

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Former Canterbury Crusaders centre Kieron Fonotia will make his test debut for Samoa against the All Blacks in their one-off match at Eden Park on Friday.

The 29-year-old Fonotia, who spent three seasons with the Crusaders before joining the Ospreys in Wales, will be joined in midfield by former Wellington Hurricanes utility back Alapati Leiua.

Former Auckland scrumhalf Auvasa Falealii and Stade Francais prop Paul Alo Emile could also make their test debuts off the bench in the match, which New Zealand are using to prepare for the British and Irish Lion series.

Scrumhalf Khan Fotualii will lead the side in the absence of regular captain David Lemi and injury to Rey Lee-lo has given Fonotia the chance to win his first cap.

"Obviously losing the experience that both these players bring is crucial and David's leadership will be missed, however Kahn Fotualii is more than capable of stepping up to lead," coach Alama Ieremia said in a statement.

"And to be able to replace those players with Alapati Leiua and Fonotia is a good test of the depth we can draw into.

"Obviously we want to put out an experienced team and the All Blacks is not a team you experiment with, so we are wanting to put on a performance that will make our nation and most importantly ourselves proud."

Samoa have lost all six of their previous tests against New Zealand, most recently a 25-16 reverse in Apia in 2015.

Samoa: 15-Ah See Tuala, 14-Albert Nikoro, 13-Kieron Fonotia, 12- Alapati Leiua, 11-Tim Nanai Williams, 10-Tusiata Pisi, 9-Kahn Fotualii (captain), 8-Faifili Levave, 7-Jack Lam, 6-Piula Faasalele, 5-Faatiga Lemalu, 4-Chris Vui, 3-Census Johnston, 2-Maatulimanu Leiataua, 1-Viliamu Afatia.

Replacements: 16-Seilala Lam, 17-Nephi Leatigaga, 18-Paul Alo-Emile, 19-Taiasina Tuifua, 20-Alafoti Faosiliva, 21-Auvasa Falealii, 22-D'Angelo Leuila, 23-Ken Pisi.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney

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