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Reece to start as All Blacks axe senior trio for Bledisloe decider

August 15, 2019 9:27 am
Sevu Reece will start for the All Blacks

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has wielded the axe for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup decider, with senior trio Owen Franks, Rieko Ioane and Ben Smith all dropped.

After last week’s 47-26 loss to the Wallabies in Perth, Hansen and selectors have made adjustments to the 23-man squad for the clash at Eden Park but are sticking with their two experimental combinations.

Ardie Savea will remain at blindside working with Sam Cane and Kieran Read as the loose forwards trio while Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett continue the dual-playmaker system at 10 and 15, respectively.

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The big changes to the squad though sees Nepo Laulala come in at tighthead prop while Sevu Reece and George Bridge take over the wings, with Franks, Ioane and Smith dropping out of the 23.

Elsewhere, Sonny Bill Williams has been given the No.12 jersey with Anton Lienert-Brown shifting across to 13 to replace the injured Jack Goodhue.

Ngani Laumape covers them off the bench.

Jordie Barrett has also been recalled but will come off the bench too, while Patrick Tuipulotu shifts in to the starting locks with Sam Whitelock as Scott Barrett begins his ban for last week’s red card.

“We have worked hard this week on our game and all that comes with it. We’ve had a great preparation and really excited and looking forward to a massive, must-win match for the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday,” Hansen said.

“We know that Australia will be determined and confident after their win in Perth which makes the challenge even more exciting.”

Hansen added the team was also looking forward to huge support in the stands on Saturday.

“It’s a sellout which is fantastic, and we hope our fans are in full voice – we’re always buoyed by the massive support we receive from our fans and we look forward to more of the same on Saturday night.”

All Blacks: Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (capt), Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu, Nepo Laulala, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.

Reserves: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Angus Ta’avao, Jackson Hemopo, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett.

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