Ardie Savea to captain New Zealand in Bledisloe Cup opener against Australia

Ardie Savea will lead New Zealand in Melbourne
Ardie Savea will lead New Zealand in Melbourne

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster has named Ardie Savea as the captain for the upcoming Bledisloe Cup opener against Australia in Melbourne on Saturday.

The decision follows after regular skipper Sam Cane was ruled out with a neck strain that he suffered during the previous round game against South Africa.

Cane's place has been taken by Dalton Papali’i which remains the only change Foster has made to the starting line up. Nevertheless, there has been five changes to the bench with Cam Roigard set to make his debut.

Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Sam Whitelock, Luke Jacobson and Anton Lienert-Brown are the other players coming into the matchday squad.

“This trophy [Bledisloe Cup] means so much to both countries and we expect a massive challenge on Saturday,” said Foster.

“As the final Rugby Championship Test, there is much at stake in this game.

“We have learned a lot from two stern Tests so far this year, and there is huge excitement about playing Australia at this iconic ground.”

New Zealand XV: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Ethan de Groot.

Reserves: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Cam Roigard, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Caleb Clarke.