Postponed due to coronavirus cases emergence in New Zealand, it is finally the weekend of the clash between the North and South islands.
All Blacks playmakers Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett will go head-to-head as the two have been named to start at first five-eight for their respective teams. Mo’unga led the Crusaders to the Super Rugby Aotearoa playing his best rugby thus far at No.10, while Beauden and his new side, the Blues, settled for second place with the playmaker always switching between full back and flyhalf.
Post-Steve Hansen, the No. 10 jersey is one of many up for serious competition and Ian Foster will be closely watching the two. Barrett, the two-time World Player of the Year, was shifted to fullback to allow for Mo’unga – the four-time Super Rugby champion fly-half with the Crusaders – to wear the No.10 jersey at the World Cup. All Blacks would lose to England in the semis.
There are All Blacks on show all over the selection. Beauden’s brother, Jordie Barrett, and Brad Webber are the only non-Crusaders in the South lineup, while TJ Perenara will start ahead of World Champion Aaron Smith for the North.
NORTH ISLAND (1-15): Karl Tu’inukuafe, Asafo Aumua, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Tupou Vaa’i, Akira Ioane, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clark, Anton Lienert-Brown, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Damian McKenzie
Reserves: Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone, Angus Ta’avo, Scott Scrafton, Dalton Papalioo, Aaron Smith, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Mitch Hunt
SOUTH ISLAND (1-15): Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala, Sam Whitelock (c), Mitchell Dunshea, Shannon Frizell, Tom Christie, Tom Sanders, Brad Weber, Richie Mo’unga, George Bridge, Jack Goodhue, Braydon Ennor, Will Jordan, Jordie Barrett
Reserves: Liam Coltman, George Bower, Tyrel Lomax, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Dillion Hunt, Finlay Christie, Josh Ioane, Leicester Fainga’anuku
In Australia, Rebels welcome back their captain and Wallaby Dane Haylett-Petty for their must-win game against the winless Western Force.
DHP returns from a month-long knee injury pushing Reece Hodge back to center, where he will partner with Billy Meakes sending Matt Toomua back home to the first five-eighth. The Western Force have dropped World Cup-winning Kiwi Richard Kahui with Byron Ralson to start on the right-wing and Kyle Godwin moving to the center position.
Force (1-15): Pek Cowan, Andrew Ready, Kieran Longbottom, Jeremy Thrush, Ollie Atkins, Fergus Lee-Warner, Brynard Stander, Henry Stowers, Ian Prior (c), Jono Lance, Marcel Brache, Henry Taefu, Kyle Godwin, Byron Ralston, Jack McGregor
Reserves: Heath Tessmann, Chris Heiberg, Dominic Hardman, Johan Bardoul, Kane Koteka, Nick Frisby, Nick Jooste, Jake Strachan
Rebels (1-15): Cameron Orr, Jordan Uelese, Jermaine Ainsley, Matt Philip, Trevor Hosea, Michael Wells, Richard Hardwick, Isi Naisarani, James Tuttle, Matt To’omua, Marika Koroibete, Bill Meakes, Reece Hodge, Tom Pincus, Dane Haylett-Petty (c)
Reserves: Efitusi Ma’afu, Cabous Eloff, Matt Gibbon, Michael Stolberg, Brad Wilkin, Frank Lomani, Andrew Deegan, Lachie Anderson
Reds welcome Jordan Petatia into the starting side at the outside center, partnering with Hamish Stewart. Chris Feauai-Sautia returns on the right-wing, while the exciting Hunter Paisami is back in the folder after recovering from his injury quicker than expected. Brumbies have test Wallabies Scott Sio, Folau Fainga’a, Tevita Kuridrani, and Nic White all to start with Joe Powell, Murray Douglas, and Reesjan Pasitoa dropping from the team.
Reds (1-15): Harry Hoopert, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Angus Blyth, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Liam Wright (c), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor, Filippo Daugunu, Hamish Stewart, Jordan Petaia, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Jock Campbell
Reserves: Josh Nasser, JP Smith, Ruan Smith, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Angus Scott-Young, Moses Sorovi, Bryce Hegarty, Hunter Paisami
Brumbies (1-15): Scott Sio, Folau Fainga’a, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Valetini, Will Miller, Pete Samu, Nic White, Bayley Kuenzle, Tom Wright, Irae Simone, Tevita Kuridrani, Andy Muirhead, Tom Banks
Reserves: Connal McInerney, James Slipper, Tom Ross, Nick Frost, Lachie McCaffrey, Ryan Lonergan, Len Ikitau, Solomone Kata
GAME TIME: Saturday, 5th September, 2020.
North Island Vs South Island – 10:05am (EAT)
Melbourne Rebels Vs Western Force – 8am (EAT)
Queensland Reds Vs Brumbies – 12:15pm (EAT)