Smith to earn 100th ABs cap as first Bledisloe team named

Source: 1News

The All Blacks have named their starting matchday team for Saturday's first Bledisloe Test against the Wallabies in Auckland with halfback Aaron Smith set to bring up his 100th cap.

Aaron Smith.

Smith starts at halfback inside Richie Mo'unga who has won the battle for the No.10 jersey against Beauden Barrett who is on the bench.

“He’s a special man, he’s achieved so much in the black jersey and has been an iconic player for us over the last decade," coach Ian Foster said of Smith.

"We know it’ll be a special night for him, his wife Teagan and his family.”

George Bower, Codie Taylor and Nepo Laulala start in a front row unchanged from the All Blacks' last outing against Fiji with props Karl Tu’inukuafe and Angus Ta’avao along hooker Dane Coles offering support off the bench.

Brodie Retallick is back at starting lock alongside captain Samuel Whitelock, with Scott Barrett the reserve for the experienced duo.

In the loose forwards, Ardie Savea is at eight, with Dalton Papalii at seven and Akira Ioane in the six jersey. Luke Jacobson is loose forward cover.

In the backs, outside Smith and Mo'unga, second five-eighth David Havili and centre Anton Lienert-Brown are the midfield combination with Rieko Ioane named on the left wing. Sevu Reece is on the right and Damian McKenzie is at fullback.

Halfback Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett and Jordie Barrett are the back reserves.

Foster said props Joe Moody and Ofa Tuungafasi weren’t considered for selection as they return from injuries, while the selectors have also taken a considered approach with outside back Will Jordan’s return from a slight hamstring strain.

All Blacks v Wallabies [Tests]

1. George Bower (3)
2. Codie Taylor (58)
3. Nepo Laulala (31)
4. Brodie Retallick (83)
5. Samuel Whitelock (125) - captain
6. Akira Ioane (4)
7. Dalton Papalii (5)
8. Ardie Savea (50)
9. Aaron Smith (99)
10. Richie Mo’unga (24)
11. Rieko Ioane (37)
12. David Havili (5)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (50)
14. Sevu Reece (10)
15. Damian McKenzie (30)
16. Dane Coles (76)
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (18)
18. Angus Ta’avao (16)
19. Scott Barrett (42)
20. Luke Jacobson (5)
21. Brad Weber (9)
22. Beauden Barrett (91)
23. Jordie Barrett (25)