Leicester Fainga'anuku to make New Zealand debut against Ireland

Beauden Barrett has been named at fly-half for New Zealand
Beauden Barrett has been named at fly-half for New Zealand

Leicester Fainga'anuku is set to make his debut as New Zealand have confirmed the matchday squad for the first Test against Ireland scheduled on Saturday in Auckland.

Fainga´anuku was impressive for Crusaders during their victorious Super Rugby Pacific campaign and has been slotted at left wing with his club team-mate Sevu Reece is positioned at right wing.

Experienced duo Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick will be part of the second row while Beauden Barrett has been preferred at fly-half over Richie Mo'unga forming halfback partnership with Aaron Smith.

Sam Cane will captain the All Blacks from the openside flank and will be part of back row that also has Ardie Savea and Scott Barrett. Ofa Tuungafasi makes it to the starting line up over Nepo Laulala at tighthead with Codie Taylor and George Bower forming the rest of the front row.

Chiefs back Pita Gus Sowakula is set to make his debut from the bench that also has Mo'unga who has overcome an illness due to a stomach bug.

Earlier, head coach Ian Foster and his assistants Greg Feek, John Plumtree and Scott McLeod along with Will Jordan, David Havili and Jack Goodhue have tested positive for Covid-19 and are placed under isolation.

"After what seems like a long time away from home it couldn't be scripted better to be back in front of our fans for this match," said Foster.

"While this week hasn't exactly gone to plan for us, our overall preparation has gone really well.

"We've prepared rigorously for this match, albeit only having a 10-day period together. We have huge respect for this Irish team and can't wait to run out onto a packed Eden Park on Saturday."

New Zealand XV: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, Leicester Fainga´anuku, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (captain), Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Ofa Tuungafasi, Codie Taylor, George Bower.

Reserves: Samisoni Taukei´aho, Karl Tu´inukuafe, Angus Ta´avao, Pita Gus Sowakula, Dalton Papalii, Finlay Christie, Richie Mo´unga, Braydon Ennor.