TJ Perenara starts for New Zealand against England

TJ Perenara will start at scrum-half for the All Blacks
TJ Perenara will start at scrum-half for the All Blacks

New Zealand head coach Scott Robertson has confirmed the matchday squad for the first Test against England to be played in Dunedin on Saturday.

The retirement of Aaron Smith sees TJ Perenara returning back to scrum-half with Damian McKenzie taking the kicking responsibility with the experienced Beauden Barrett starting on the bench.

Former All Blacks captain Sam Cane is unavailable for the game due to a back injury with Scott Barrett captaining at second row along with Patrick Tuipulotu. Dalton Papali'i starts at openside with Samipeni Finau at blindside while Ardie Savea completes the remainder of the back row.

Ethan de Groot, Codie Taylor and Tyrel Lomax are named on the front row while the midfield sees Reiko Ioane combining with Jordie Barrett. Mark Tele'a starts at left wing with Sevu Reece on the right while Stephen Perofeta was rewarded for his Super Rugby form with a start at the fullback.

“This was a very tough squad to pick, but we’ve selected the best 23 players to beat England on Saturday,” Robertson said.

“There is a lot of excitement in the group for our first Test and we’re walking together toward this opportunity to represent New Zealand and our families in Dunedin in front of a sold out stadium. We’ve prepared well and we’re ready.”

New Zealand: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Mark Tele'a, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 TJ Perenara; 1 Ethan de Groot, 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 4 Scott Barrett (capt), 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 6 Samipeni Finau, 7 Dalton Papali'i, 8 Ardie Savea

Reserves: 16-Asafo Aumua, 17-Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18-Fletcher Newell, 19-Tupou Vaa'i, 20-Luke Jacobson, 21-Finlay Christie, 22-Anton Lienert-Brown, 23-Beauden Barrett