Rugby News

Rugby-Sotutu gets first start for settled All Blacks

SYDNEY, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Hoskins Sotutu will make his first test start as New Zealand coach Ian Foster made just three changes to his starting lineup to face Australia in the opening Tri-Nations clash in Sydney on Saturday.

Sotutu has replaced Ardie Savea at number eight, while Karl Tu’inukuafe comes in for Joe Moody at loosehead prop, while experienced lock Sam Whitelock has also returned to the starting side in place of Tupou Vaa’i.

Savea remained in New Zealand for the birth of his second child, while Moody was battling concussion after a head knock in the 27-7 victory over the Wallabies at Eden Park earlier this month.

Whitelock missed the Eden Park game after he presented with concussion symptoms following the 16-16 draw in the first game in Wellington.

Sotutu came off the bench in the first two tests against the Wallabies earlier this month and Foster said he had deserved his first test start.

“He’s had plenty of minutes already in the Bledisloe Cup series and he’s ready to go,” Foster said in a statement. “He’s excited. It’s a chance to start his first test so it’s pretty special for him.”

Ngani Laumape has also returned to the squad after he broke his arm in Super Rugby Aotearoa and moved onto the replacements’ bench while Tyrel Lomax has come onto the bench for Nepo Laulala, who is also on paternity leave.

Rieko Ioane was also brought back onto the bench after he was a late withdrawal from the Eden Park game.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Shri Navaratnam