Scots-born Christie starts against England in only All Blacks change

Thu, Jul 11, 2024, 2:34 AM
by AFP
Finlay Christie starts against England in the second Test. Photo: Getty Images
Finlay Christie starts against England in the second Test. Photo: Getty Images

Finlay Christie was named Thursday as All Blacks scrum-half for the second Test against England in Auckland on Saturday, replacing the injured TJ Perenara in the only change to the New Zealand team.

Scotland-born Christie, 28, came off the bench in the 16-15 win in Dunedin to replace Perenara, who had suffered a knee injury.

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Christie, who has made 22 appearances for New Zealand, is relishing starting a Test at Eden Park, home of his Super Rugby side Blues. 

"I'm grateful enough to have it as a home ground for Super Rugby, but it becomes even more special when you wear a black jersey," Christie told reporters.

The scrum-half was born in Peebles and was seven years old when he moved to Auckland with his family.

He said there will be an extra edge for his Scottish relatives when he plays against the old foe England.

"Any time Scotland beat England, it gets a bit of a fist pump," he added with a smile.

He will play inside All Blacks fly-half Damian McKenzie, whose Chiefs lost to Christie's Blues at Auckland in the Super Rugby grand final last month.

"I gave him a wee bit of stick about that last week, but we got through that and we're on the same team now," Christie added.

Uncapped Chiefs scrum-half Cortez Ratima, 23, could make his debut after being named on the bench. 

"Finlay has worked hard and earned his place in the starting side and it will be a proud day for Cortez and his whanau (family)," said All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson.

A victory at Eden Park, where the All Blacks have not lost in 50 matches since 1994, would see New Zealand sweep the two-Test series.

England have only beaten the All Blacks twice on New Zealand soil, last tasting victory in 2003. 

Robertson said the All Blacks needed to be more clinical against an England side who pushed the hosts to the final whistle of the first game.

"We need to finish our opportunities better, think on our feet, but also with a little bit more game plan execution," he said.

New Zealand (15-1): Stephen Perofeta; Sevu Reece, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Mark Tele'a; Damian McKenzie, Finlay Christie; Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali'i, Samipeni Finau; Patrick Tuipulotu, Scott Barrett (captain); Tyrel Lomax, Codie Taylor, Ethan De Groot.

Replacements: Beauden Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Cortez Ratima, Luke Jacobson, Tupou Vaa'i, Fletcher Newell, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Asafo Aumua.

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