All blacks are making a number of changes for the Eden…

Ian Foster and his colleagues responded to the All Blacks’ 16-point tie in the Bledisloe Cup kick-off by making a number of changes to the side for Game 2 this weekend at Eden Park.

After George Bridge was ruled out for six months with a chest injury sustained in training yesterday, Caleb Clarke was promoted to the starting XI after a strong debut from the Wellington bench.

Beauden Barrett was named as the full-back after missing Game 1 with a tight Achilles tendon. The two-time World Rugby Player of the Year has pushed Damian McKenzie to the bench after joining the fullback last week. Jordie Barrett stays on the wing.

Reiko Ioane was moved from his initial midfield role to a banker role this week this week after losing the ball in Wellington trying to ground it for a try and a poor defensive reading in preparation for Australia’s first try. Anton Lienert-Brown comes to the outside center, Jack Goodhue stays in second place.

Bridge isn’t the only injury omission for the All Blacks. Veteran Lock Sam Whitelock was excluded from the game due to a concussion. He was replaced by Tupou Vaa’i in the starting XI and Scott Barrett returned to rugby on the bench. Barrett missed the entire successful Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign by the Crusaders with a plantar fascia injury, but was cleared to play by medical staff earlier this week.

Vaa’i made his testing debut from the bench just last week, but Coach Foster was confident the youngster could get into Attack XV.

“It’s a great opportunity for Tupou,” said Foster.

“We enjoyed seeing him come off the bench last weekend, he brought a lot of energy and he settled in well.”

Prop Alex Hodgman was named to make his debut on the bench in place of Karl Tu’inukuafe, while Nepo Laulala replaced Tyrel Lomax, who was late on the bench last week. Hookers Dane Coles and Codie Taylor have swapped positions, with the former starting and the latter coming off the bench.

Talking about the outing at Bledisloe 1 last week, Foster said the team are aiming for significant improvements in their game for Eden Park.

“It was our first test together last weekend and while there were some aspects of our game that we were really looking forward to, especially our set piece, we didn’t get the performance we wanted so there was a lot work for us on. We have to be smarter and more defensively focused with our ball.

“The Bledisloe series is back in first place and is starting again this weekend which is exciting. It’s the last test at home for us so there will be a lot of excitement among our fans too. There is everything to play and we can’t wait. ”

All Black’s team for Bledisloe 2

1. Joe Moody
2. Dane Coles
3. Ofa Tuungafasi
4. Patrick Tuipulotu
5. Tupou Vai’i
6. Shannon Frizell
7. Sam Cane (c)
8. Ardie Savea
9. Aaron Smith
10. Richie Mo’unga
11. Caleb Clarke
12. Jack Goodhue
13. Anton Lienert-Brown
14. Jordie Barrett
15. Beauden Barrett

Bank
16. Codie Taylor
17. Alex Hodgman
18. Simple Laulala
19. Scott Barrett
20. Hoskins Sotutu
21. TJ Perenara
22. Rieko Ioane
23. Damian McKenzie

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