July 7 (Reuters) † New Zealand coach Ian Foster has made one enforced change to his starting side for Saturday’s second test against Ireland in Dunedin, bringing in Dalton Papalii at blindside flanker and shifting Scott Barrett to lock.
The change in the pack was forced by the unavailability of first choice second row forward Sam Whitelock, who self-reported a concussion sustained during the 42-19 win in the series opener at Eden Park last week.
Prop Aidan Ross and exciting scrumhalf Folau Fakatava could make their test debuts from the bench, which featured four changes from last week also including the return of lock Patrick Tuipulotu and winger Will Jordan.
Foster resisted the urge to throw speedster Jordan straight into the starting side after he was one of three backs to miss last week’s match in the wake of positive tests for COVID-19.
The other two, centers David Havili and Jack Goodhue, will have to wait for another opportunity as Quinn Tupaea and Rieko Ioane retained their spots in the midfield.
“The backline remains unchanged with a plan to build on existing combinations from the previous week,” Foster said in a news release.
“We know the Irish will throw everything at us this week to keep the series alive. We’ve again had challenges this week, but we feel this team has laid a foundation to build on and is desperate to improve against a very determined Irish side .”
Foster’s gamble at playing Scott Barrett at flanker in Auckland paid off but the absence of locks Whitelock and Tupou Vaa’i, who has tested positive for COVID-19means a return to his more usual position in the second row.
Papalii was one of the form players of the Super Rugby campaign and might have challenged captain Sam Cane for the starting spot on the openside flank had he not suffered appendicitis last month.
His inclusion, having recovered from surgery, means no place in the side for Akira Ioane, who looked to have locked down the number six jersey last season but has been struggling with a niggling foot injury.
15-Jordie Barrett, 14-Sevu Reece, 13-Rieko Ioane, 12-Quinn Tupaea, 11-Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Ardie Savea, 7-Sam Cane (captain), 6-Dalton Papalii, 5-Scott Barrett, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Ofa Tuungafasi, 2-Codie Taylor, 1-George Bower
Replacements: 16-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17-Aidan Ross, 18-Angus Ta’avao, 19-Patrick Tuipulotu, 20-Pita Gus Sowakula, 21-Folau Fakatava, 22-Richie Mo’unga, 23-Will Jordan
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
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