Whitelock captain, 4 new caps in NZ squad | Ralph Lauren

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Ian Foster handed the All Blacks captaincy to veteran lock Sam Whitelock, selected four new caps and devised a patchwork solution to a shortage of midfield options in his 35-man squad for home Tests next month against Tonga and Fiji.

With his most experienced midfield duo of Anton Lienert-Brown and Jack Goodhue both injured and with Ngangi Laumape about to leave to play in France, Foster faced a lean choice of candidates at Nos.12 and 13 for New Zealand.

Foster announced the squad on Monday.

Goodhue is likely out for the season after rupturing knee ligaments but Lienert-Brown may be back in time for the second Fiji Test after undergoing elbow surgery. Laumape, who is widely regarded as New Zealand’s form No.12 this season, has been repeatedly overlooked by Foster.

After being offered a reduced contract by New Zealand Rugby, he has decided his future lies elsewhere.

Foster has followed the Crusaders in moving David Havili to centre from fullback, where he last played for the All Blacks four years ago.

He has again switched Rieko Ioane from the wing to centre, though the experiment failed the last time it was tried at international level.

Whitelock will be rejoined by his regular locking partner Brodie Retallick, who is back from Japan and restores New Zealand depth.

He takes over the captaincy from Sam Cane, who is sidelined with a pectoral muscle injury.

“He’s hugely experienced, not just as a player but also as a leader and he has great connections with Sam Cane and the leaders in the team as well,” Foster said.


Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, George Bower, Ethan de Groot, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Angus Ta’avao, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa’i, Sam Whitelock. Ethan Blackadder. Shannon Frizell, Akira Ioane, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu. Backs: Aaron Smith, Brad Weber. Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga. Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea. Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece.


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