The All Blacks have announced their team for the second of three Test matches against Ireland in New Zealand.
One change has been made to the starting line-up, as well as a positional switch and a handful of additions to the All Black’s bench.
Here’s an overview of these changes, and the impact we think they’ll have on the second Test between these two sides.
Dalton Papalii comes in for Sam Whitelock
Off the back of captaining the Blue’s to 15 victories in a row and making the Super Rugby Pacific final, it would have been easy for Dalton Papalii to have felt hard done by when he didn’t make the All Black’s starting line-up last week.
Many punters rate him as the nation’s best seven—and yet, he’s made the run-on team this week, in the unfamiliar position of blindside flanker.
Papalii isn’t the typical blindside, having functioned as more of a jackal and a mobile player for the Blues, than the battering-ram style ball runner that the All Blacks typically utilize at blindside (read: Jerome Kaine).
However, Papalii still weighs in at a surprising 113kg, and brings a high degree of physicality to his tackles, if not the real mongrel that blindside often provides—though a mid-week press conference did reveal that Papalii is seeking to “smack someone early on.”
Scott Barrett back to lock
The one change to the All Black’s starting lineup came as a result of a delayed on-set concussion to Sam Whitelock, self-reported during the week.
This has forced Ian Foster to shift Scott Barrett back into his regular position of lock alongside Brodie Retallick, a move Foster himself has said wasn’t ideal.
“I think it’s fair to say we probably would have looked at ‘Scooter’ [Barrett] again,” stated Foster, continuing to assert that, “I think you’ll see him there again at some stage but for now it’s a chance for us to look at where we could have ended up on the second half last week, which is three more mobile loosies.”
The statement is a revealing one by Foster, who until recently has been criticized by his use of Barrett at blindside, when New Zealand has such a wealth of specialist blindsides available, such as Akira Ioane.
Ross, Tuipulotu, Fakatava and Jordan on the bench
The All Black’s bench sees quite a reshuffle from last week, with Aidan Ross, Patrick Tuipulotu, Folau Fakatava and Will Jordan all getting called up to the bench.
Aidan Ross makes his debut after a strong season with the Chiefs, while Patrick Tuipulotu only re-joined the All Black’s squad this week after a sabbatical in Japan saw him ineligible to play unless an injury occurred within the All Black’s locking stocks. It’s safe to say Tuipulotu owes Sam Whitelock a beer after this one.
Folau Fakatava also makes his All Black’s debut, following an electric season with the Highlanders where he deputized to Aaron Smith—a role that will be repeated this Saturday.
Finally, Will Jordan reclaims a spot on the bench courtesy of his covid recovery, and looks forward to bringing his hot Super Rugby Pacific form—15 tries for the season—to the international stage.
Tune in at 7:05pm local time to catch the second of three matches between these sides.