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All Blacks: Richie Mo'unga at fly-half and Damian McKenzie at full-back as Beauden Barrett named on the bench

All Blacks will be captained by veteran lock Sam Whitelock, playing his 123rd Test, in the absence of Sam Cane, who has a pectoral injury; New Zealand will also play two home Tests against Fiji this month

Richie Mo'unga, Damian McKenzie, Beauden Barrett and Jordie Barrett enjoy a laugh during a New Zealand All Blacks captain's run at Sky Stadium on October 10, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand
Image: Richie Mo'unga, Damian McKenzie, Beauden Barrett and Jordie Barrett during training

Richie Mo'unga has been picked as the All Blacks' starting fly-half for their season-opening Test against Tonga, consigning Beauden Barrett to the bench in a matchday squad featuring four uncapped players.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster used Barrett as a second playmaker at full-back last season but has opted for Damian McKenzie in the number 15 jersey in a change of tack.

"He's been playing in New Zealand this year and has been playing at that intensity," Foster said of Mo'unga.

"That gives him the nod for this game. We've been pleased with Beaudy in Japan, but there's still a lift when he comes back, so this gives him another week of training with us before we make the next assessment."

Quinn Tupaea, the Chiefs' 2020 rookie of the year, has been named at inside centre for Saturday's clash at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland, with fellow uncapped players George Bower, Ethan Blackadder and Finlay Christie starting on the bench.

Crusaders flanker Blackadder, whose dad Todd previously coached Bath, will hope to join his father in making his All Blacks debut against the Tongans.

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The All Blacks will be captained by veteran lock Sam Whitelock playing his 123rd Test in the absence of Sam Cane, who has a pectoral injury.

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All three Barrett brothers are in the match-day squad with Scott starting in the second row and Beauden and Jordie on the bench.

Meanwhile, Tonga have selected nine new caps in their starting line-up and four more on the bench for the Test, which is their last before facing Samoa in a two-match World Cup qualifying series.

The Tonga team includes an all-new back row comprising Solomone Funaki, who has played for Hawkes Bay province in New Zealand, Mateaki Kafatolu from Wellington and Sione Tuipolotu from Auckland.

Nikolai Foliaki and New Zealand-based Fine Inisi will make their debuts in midfield. Scrum-half Sonatane Takulua, who plays for Toulon in France after spending five years with the England club Newcastle, will captain the team.

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mounga, 9 Brad Weber, 1 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2 Dane Coles, 3 Angus Taavao, 4 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 6 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 8 Luke Jacobson.

Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 George Bower, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Jordie Barrett.

Tonga: 15 James Faiva, 14 Hosea Saumaki, 13 Fine Inisi, 12 Nikolai Foliaki, 11 Penikolo Latu, 10 Kailone Hala, 9 Sonatane Takulua (c); 1 Sione Tuipulotu, 2 Solomone Funaki, 3 Mateaki Kafatolu, 4 Zane Kapeli, 5 Don Lolo, 6 Sila Puafisi, 7 Sam Moli, 8 Duke Nginingini.

Replacements: 16 Siua Maile, 17 Jethro Felemi, 18 Tau Koloamatangi, 19 Harrison Mataele, 20 Viliami Taulani, 21 Nasi Manu, 22 Leon Fukofuka, 23 Walter Fifita.

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