New Zealand All Blacks Rugby News

Moala and Ellis in All Black squad for Samoa

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Blues winger George Moala has been named to make his All Black debut and veteran
scrum-half Andy Ellis has been recalled for Wednesday’s historic Test against
Samoa.

Moala and Ellis, whose last Test was the 2011 World Cup final, are among nine
players who were added to a 41-man pre-World Cup squad to compensate for injuries
and the unavailability of 17 players involved in Saturday’s Super Rugby final.

Three other late additions — Nepo Laulala, Brad Weber and Charlie Ngatai —
are set to make their debuts off the bench in the team named Monday before the
All Blacks departed for Apia.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has said he wants to field as many players as
possible either against Samoa or in the Rugby Championship Tests against South
Africa, Australia and Argentina before his World Cup squad is named at the end
of August.

He described Samoa as an “ideal challenge” to start their build up
and has taken no chances with his forwards selection naming an eight with a
combined 634 caps.

It is the same Richie McCaw-led pack that started the World Cup final four
years ago with the exception of the now retired Brad Thorn whose place is taken
by Luke Romano who already has 17 Tests under his belt.

However, the backline has more of an experimental look given the absence of
several seasoned players from the Hurricanes and Highlanders who were involved
in the Super rugby final.

Israel Dagg has won the fullback slot despite missing most of the Super rugby
season because of injury.

Outside scrum-half Ellis is Test centurion Dan Carter to guide a backline with
Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty in the centres and Charles Piutau on the
left wing and Moala on the right.

“It’s really important we establish this is a big Test. If we rock up
there thinking it’s about sunscreen and a holiday we will get thumped,”
Hansen said, adding it would ideally take the All Blacks out of their comfort
zone ahead of the World Cup.

“It presents us with things that we haven’t had in front of us before,
which I find great. I love those challenges because you find out about people
in different circumstances. How well do they cope? How well don’t they?

“When we have to name this (World Cup) team we want the people on the
bus with the best mental fortitude in the group because it’s going to take a
lot of mental fortitude to win the world Cup.”

Wednesday’s Test will be the first time the All Blacks have played Samoa in
Samoa with the fixture agreed after intense media pressure in New Zealand for
the World champions to do more for Pacific island rugby.

The All Blacks have won all five Tests played against Samoa in New Zealand,
with the closest result being 35-13 in the inaugural match in 1993 and the biggest
margin being the 101-14 scoreline in the most recent Test in 2008.

New Zealand All Blacks

Israel Dagg, George Moala, Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Charles Piutau,
Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock,
Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock

Replacements: Hikawera Elliot, Wyatt Crockett, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick,
Matt Todd, Brad Weber, Colin Slade, Charlie Ngatai

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