Brad Weber has been named as Aaron Smith s replacement, leap frogging TJ Perenara for the starting position in the third Bledisloe Test in Perth on Sunday afternoon.
Billed as a Father s Day clash, the All Blacks will be without three of their stars with Smith, Richie Mo unga and Sam Whitelock all remaining in New Zealand with their partners expecting babies.
Weber will get his second start at half back in his 11th Test, with Perenara to provide impact off the bench, while Beauden Barrett has been given the nod to start at fly half as Mo unga s replacement.
Brad has been with us through the Steinlager Series and coming into the Rugby Championship, All Blacks coach Ian Foster said. We really wanted to build the nine combination, especially with Aaron not here and to complement TJ s leadership and experience, so this is a great opportunity to put our faith in Brad to start the Test.
In all, Foster has made six changes to his side with Scott Barrett coming in for Whitelock in the only change up front, while Anton Leinert Brown will make his return from injury slotting in at centre joining David Havili. Reiko Ioane has been moved to the left wing, with Will Jordan taking up the right and Jordie Barrett slots in at fullback, leaving Damian McKenzie and George Bridge on the bench as powerful replacements.
Having already won the Bledisloe Cup for a 19th straight year, the All Blacks will be looking to complete the whitewash. While the Wallabies were able to stay in touch in the opening Test, falling 33 25, New Zealand came out firing in the second Test in Auckland, registering a record 57 22 win, and they ll be determined to round out the series with another strong win.
Despite the unusual circumstances around the final Test, with the match delayed, quarantine in New Zealand and Perth, Foster believes his team won t be underdone.
We are ready, and the team is really determined to finish off this block of Tests against Australia with a top performance. We ve had a really unique situation going into this Test, with quarantine back in New Zealand and a soft quarantine here in Perth, but the work that has gone in preparing the players has been outstanding, so when the whistle goes on Sunday, we ll be ready.
Foster has also been forced to make changes on his bench with Patrick Tuipulotu out with a tight groin which sees Tupou Vaa i come onto the bench for his first Test of 2021. While Ethan Blackadder also gets the call up as loose forward cover. Ardie Savea will captain the All Blacks for the first time at number eight.
In the forwards, we have picked a group that is most recently battle hardened, Foster added. A lot of them played in the first two Bledisloe Cup Tests, so it s right to go with them in this Fortinet Rugby Championship Test.
All Blacks: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Anton Lienert Brown, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Brad Webber, Ardie Savea, Dalton Papalii, Akira Ioane, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, George Bower. Replacements: Samisoni Taukei aho, Karl Tu inukuafe, Angus Ta avao, Tupou Vaa I, Ethan Blackadder, TJ Perenara, Damian McKenzie, George Bridge.