Autumn Nations Series: New Zealand ring in changes for Italy clash
All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has opted to switch things around for the match in Rome following last week's convincing win over Wales; former New Zealand international Kieran Crowley has named an experienced team as he takes charge of Italy for the first time
Last Updated: 04/11/21 1:33pm
Richie Mo'unga will start at fly-half after New Zealand head coach Ian Foster opted to shuffle his pack for the Autumn Nations Series clash with Italy in Rome on Saturday.
Mo'unga replaces Beauden Barrett as the All Blacks boss rests some of his usual starters, with wing Sevu Reece, scrum-half Brad Weber, second row Tupou Vaa'i and prop Tyrel Lomax coming into the starting XV from the side which beat Wales 54-16 in Cardiff last weekend.
Vaa'i, 21, will form an inexperienced lock pairing with Josh Lord, 20, who made his debut against the United States last month, and Foster is eager to see the players who have come into the team seize this opportunity against the Azzurri.
"We know it's a really big game for us when it comes to improving our skillsets and decision-making as we've made that a bit of a focus this week," Foster said.
"The team that's been selected has been given the job of ensuring we grow in those areas from our game against Wales. This week is about this particular group putting another marker down.
"Tupou is a quality footballer and we have seen more signs of that in the last two weeks, while Josh on his first tour has learnt things quickly and has been really clear-headed at training. We've got a lot of faith in him."
The All Blacks could break a number of records this weekend, and their 89 tries to date in 2021 are only three behind the world record of 92 in a calendar year scored by Argentina in 2003.
If they add three or more conversions, they will break South Africa's record of 62 in a calendar year set in 2007, while they need another 31 points to also beat the Springboks' record tally of 658 points that was also set 14 years ago.
Foster's opposite number Kieran Crowley, himself a former New Zealand international and Rugby World Cup winner with the team in 1987, is under no illusions about the size of the task Italy face in his first match in charge
However, Crowley, who coached Treviso-based Benetton to Rainbow Cup glory earlier in 2021, is seeking gradual improvement from the team after Italy lost every match in the Six Nations for the sixth year running.
"I have said since I got this job not to expect big changes on the scoreboard - in terms of wins and losses - to happen quickly, because they don't at this level," Crowley, who has named an experienced team for the match, said.
🔵 #Italrugby— Italrugby (@Federugby) November 4, 2021
Il XV in campo sabato 6 novembre per il match inaugurale dell'@autumnnations con gli @AllBlacks ➡ https://t.co/JDySS8WI4U
🏟 Stadio Olimpico, Roma
🏉 Kick off ore 14
📺 Diretta @SkySport 1 e @TV8it
🎟 @TicketOneIT #ITAvNZL#insieme #rugbypassioneitaliana pic.twitter.com/wcLZoGB6bm
"The teams we are playing most of the time are way above us in the world rankings, so we have to have some goals within the team that we can look to achieve.
"If we can achieve those, it is a positive and that will have an effect on the scoreboard, whether it is with closer scorelines or eking out a win here and there."
Italy: 15. Matteo Minozzi; 14. Federico Mori, 13. Juan Ignacio Brex, 12. Marco Zanon, 11. Montanna Ioanne; 10. Paolo Garbisi, 9. Stephen Varney; 1. Danilo Fischcetti, 2. Gianmarco Lucchesi, 3. Marco Riccioni, 4. Marco Fuser, 5. David Susi, 6. Sebastian Negri, 7. Michele Lamaro (captain), 8. Renato Giammarioli.
Replacements: 16. Luca Bigi, 17. Ivan Nemer, 18. Pietro Ceccarelli, 19. Niccolo Cannone, 20. Federico Ruzza, 21. Abraham Steyn, 22. Callum Braley, 23. Carlo Cana.
New Zealand: 15. Damian McKenzie; 14. Sevu Reece, 13. Braydon Ennor; 12. Quinn Tupaea, 11. George Bridge; 10. Richie Mounga, 9. Brad Weber; 1. George Bower, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 4. Tupou Vaai, 5. Josh Lord, 6. Luke Jacobson, 7. Sam Cane (captain), 8. Hoskins Sotutu.
Replacements: 16. Asafo Aumua, 17. Ethan de Groot, 18. Ofa Tuungafasi, 19. Sam Whitelock, 20. Shannon Frizell, 21. Finlay Christie, 22. David Havili, 23. Jordie Barrett.