- Publish Date
- Friday, 5 August 2022, 9:06AM
Caleb Clarke will return for the All Blacks this weekend, taking his place on the wing for the first test against the Springboks at Mbombela Stadium.
For their first test in South Africa since 2018, the All Blacks have named a few surprises in the team for the clash on Sunday morning (NZ time).
Samisoni Taukei'aho, in his 12th test, will make just his second start at the top level, while Angus Ta'avao takes on the starting tighthead prop role in the absense of Nepo Laulala. George Bower, the best of the team's props in the Ireland series, retains his place as the first-choice loosehead. Tyrel Lomax and Ethan de Groot - neither of whom were selected in the squad for the Ireland series - will provide cover from the bench.
Scott Barrett joins Sam Whitelock in the locking department with Brodie Retallick unavailable due to injury, while Tupou Vaa'i will look to make his impact late if called upon.
The back row is a predictable one, with Akira Ioane, Sam Cane and Ardie Savea retaining their roles, while Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett hold down the No 9 and 10 jerseys.
Will Jordan and Clarke provide speed and flair on the wings, outside Rieko Ioane and David Havili in the midfield, and Jordie Barrett at fullback.
"What a great way to start this year's Rugby Championship. It's always an exciting tournament to be part of," All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said. "This year's draw means we have a massive challenge of two games here in South Africa.
"We have settled in well in Mbombela and are preparing for what is always an intense game against our old foe.
"Many of our squad are here in South Africa for the first time. This gives us another opportunity to add new experiences and grow our game."
Ethan de Groot
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission