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Barrett captains raw All Blacks in opener

2 November 2017 4:01 AM
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An experienced duo will capture ample attention despite a host of fresh faces winning All Blacks selection for their tour opener against the Barbarians.

Three uncapped players are on the bench while three others will make their starting debuts in a raw team, boasting just over 300 combined caps, on Saturday at Twickenham.

To provide some counter-balance, coach Steve Hansen has confirmed Beauden Barrett will be captain and loose forward Jerome Kaino will play his first Test in almost four months.

Hansen resisted the urge to experiment with Damian McKenzie at five-eighth, instead returning the No.10 jersey to Barrett, whose absence was keenly felt when replaced by Lima Sopoaga in last month's loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane.

Hansen anointed Barrett the off-field skipper earlier this week but hadn't committed to the 26-year-old playing.

"He hasn't played for four-five weeks so we may as well start him and know where he's at."

Kaino's selection at No.8 - partnering dynamic Hurricanes flankers Ardie Savea and Vaea Fifita - will stir interest.

The veteran flanker, 34, hasn't played for his country since the drawn third and final Test against the British and Irish Lions.

He left the team ahead of the Sydney Test in August to attend to personal matters and has struggled to force his way back in.

With up to eight first-choice players missing from the tour and another five being rested for the Barbarians game, Hansen forced himself this week to dig deeper.

The three uncapped benchmen are Matt Duffie, the former Melbourne NRL winger, seasoned prop Tim Perry and dynamic 20-year-old hooker Asafo Aumua.

Hansen said the likes of Aumua had clearly been "overwhelmed" during preparations this week but he didn't regret naming a handful of newcomers together for the same game.

"Preferably, you'd want to give them a couple of weeks before you put them into the team," Hansen said.

"But this Baabaas game suits having those types of boys in the game. It's still too much to ask them to come straight on and play."

It will be a first All Blacks start for prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi, fullback David Havili and Seta Tamanivalu, who forms half of an all-Fijian born wing combination alongside Waisake Naholo.

Openside flanker Matt Todd wasn't considered because of a minor groin injury.

David Havili, Waisake Naholo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Seta Tamanivalu, Beauden Barrett (capt), TJ Perenara, Jerome Kaino, Ardie Savea, Vaea Fifita, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Nathan Harris, Kane Hames.

Res: Asafo Aumua, Tim Perry, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Lima Sopoaga, Matt Duffie.

Source: sbs.com.au

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