Barrett to start, Lions back winners for third Test

by AFP

Fledgling international Jordie Barrett will start at fullback for New Zealand in the third Test against the British and Irish Lions in Auckland on Saturday as the All Blacks turn to rookie power in a backline shake up for the series decider.

Barrett's Wellington Hurricanes teammate Ngani Laumape gets his first Test start after making his debut 25 minutes into last week's second Test when Sonny Bill Williams was red-carded.

Blockbusting wing Julian Savea wins a recall after failing to even make the bench in the first two Tests while Israel Dagg moves from fullback to wing to accommodate Barrett.

Second Test wings Waisake Naholo and Rieko Ioane have been dropped following the Lions 24-21 victory to level the series in Wellington last weekend.

The All Blacks steamrolled Argentina last weekend. Photo: Getty ImagesBarrett, the younger brother of fly-half Beauden and lock Scott Barrett, only has 17 minutes of Test experience after taking the field as a replacement late in the All Blacks run away win over Samoa before the Lions series began.

With the Lions battling to win a series against New Zealand for only the second time, the deciding final Test "is going to be a cracker," Hansen said when naming his line up Thursday.

"It now comes down to this Saturday -- the winner takes all -- and that'll create its own unique pressures and it's going to be interesting to see how both sides cope with it."

The All Blacks have been scrambling to shore up their backline since the first Test which they managed to win 30-15 despite injuries removing seasoned fullback Ben Smith and centre Ryan Crotty in the first half.

The midfield stocks worsened in the second Test when Williams earned a four-week suspension for his shoulder charge on Lions wing Anthony Watson.

Dagg, who started on the right wing in the first Test before replacing Smith at fullback for the second, returns to the right wing with Savea, boasting an impressive 46 tries from 53 Tests, recalled from the wilderness to replace Ioane on the left.

Kieran Read will captain the All Blacks. Photo: Getty ImagesHansen has kept the same starting forward pack and bench from the first two Tests which includes captain Kieran Read who will become the seventh All Black to play his milestone 100th Test.

"We've had a good week of preparation and are very excited by the opportunity that's ahead of us, and I'm sure the Lions are as well," Hansen said.

"We know it'll be a physical and intense match, but just as importantly, it'll be a game where both teams will have moments of momentum, and the ability of everyone to adapt and adjust throughout the 80 minutes will be crucial."

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has rewarded his victorious Test players by naming an unchanged team for their tour-ending showdown.

The same 23-man group who won the second Test in Wellington has been retained for Saturday's decider in Auckland, with the series locked 1-1.

It is the first time a Lions team has been unchanged since 1993.

Gatland says he can sense there is another level within his same players and is thankful they are fully fit at the end of a long season.

They showed good energy to come from 18-9 down in Wellington, he said, dominating the final 15 minutes.

"We felt we should reward the players for the result and the courage that they showed in coming from behind," Gatland said.

"There are some players who are pretty disappointed not to be selected and I understand that.

"It is what you would expect from competitive top athletes, they back themselves."

Gatland is persisting with the twin pivot combination of Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell, which proved effective against an All Blacks team reduced to 14 men when Sonny Bill Williams was sent off early.

Gatland has also retained openside specialists Sam Warburton and Sean O'Brien as his flanker combination after their combined efforts in Wellington's wet conditions.

After three days of low-key preparation in Queenstown, Gatland said his players were aware of how much they'll need to lift if they are to mirror the achievement of the 1971 Lions, their only victorious series in 12 visits to New Zealand.

"We are all aware of how big this game is and we are expecting a backlash from the All Blacks," Gatland said.

"But this is a huge chance for this group of players to show their abilities and reap the benefits of the work everyone has put in.

"It is their chance to make Lions history."

The All Blacks take on the Lions in Aucklan on Saturday, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO.


Lions team to face the All Blacks

1. Mako Vunipola

2. Jamie George

3. Tadhg Furlong

4. Maro Itoje

5. Alun Wyn Jones

6. Sam Warburton

7. Sean O'Brien

8. Toby Taletau

9. Conor Murray

10. Johnny Sexton

11. Elliot Daly

12. Owen Farrell

13. Jonathan Davies

14. Anthony Watson

15. Liam Williams


16. Ken Owens

17. Jack McGrath

18. Kyle Sinckler

19. Courtney Lawes

20. CJ Stander

21. Rhys Webb

22. Ben Teo

23. Jack Nowell

New Zealand team to face the Lions

1. Joe Moody

2. Codie Taylor

3. Owen Franks

4. Brodie Retallick

5. Sam WHitelock

6. Jerome Kaino

7. Sam Cane

8. Kieran Read

9. Aaron Smith

10. Beauden Barrett

11. Julian Savea

12. Ngani Laumape

13. Anton Lienert-Brown

14. Israel Dagg

15. Jordie Barrett


16. Nathan Harris

17. Wyatt Crockett

18. Charlie Faumuina

19. Scott Barrett

20. Ardie Savea

21. TJ Perenara

22. Aaron Cruden

23. Malakai Fekitoa