SYDNEY (Reuters) - Akira Ioane will make his long-awaited test debut for New Zealand after years on the fringes of the squad as one of four new caps named by Ian Foster to face Australia in their Tri-Nations clash in Brisbane on Saturday.
Ioane will start at blindside flanker for the clash at Lang Park, with Shannon Frizell dropping out of the matchday squad after he started the last three games against the Wallabies.
“We’ve been really impressed with Akira,” Foster said in a statement. “He’s keen, he’s ready and to have his first test start is pretty special.”
The All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup for the 18th successive season last week in Sydney with a record 43-5 victory, which also gave them a bonus point in the Tri-Nations standings.
Ioane will join younger brother Rieko, who has been brought back onto the left wing to replace Caleb Clarke, after he started the test season at centre but was then named on the bench last week, where he scored a try.
The Ioanes join all three Barrett brothers in the starting side, with Jordie shifting from wing to fullback, while Beauden moves into his preferred flyhalf role to replace Richie Mo’unga, who was superb against the Wallabies last week.
Scott Barrett has also predictably been given a start after he recovered from foot surgery and played the last two games from the bench.
Uncapped loose forward Cullen Grace, hooker Asafo Aumua and utility back Will Jordan are expected to make their debuts from the bench.
“I know Asafo is also excited for his first test and he’ll bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm when he comes off the bench,” Foster said while adding that Grace and Jordan had also impressed with their work at training.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Stephen Coates
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