Rugby-Beauden, Scott Barrett start for COVID-hit All Blacks against Ireland


FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - June Internationals - New Zealand vs France - Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand - June 9, 2018 - New Zealand team players and brothers Jordie, Scott and Beauden Barrett stand together before the start of the match. REUTERS/Ross Setford

(Reuters) - Beauden Barrett will start at flyhalf in place of Richie Mo'unga and his brother Scott at blindside flanker for the All Blacks in the first of three July tests against Ireland at Eden Park on Saturday.

Hulking winger Leicester Fainga'anuku has been handed test debut in a backline depleted by an outbreak of COVID in the camp, while loose forward Pita Gus Sowakula could win his first cap off the bench at the age of 27.

Mou'nga, who was named on the bench, missed training this week through illness and so twice World Player of the Year Beauden Barrett gets his chance to stake his claim on the number 10 shirt.

The selection in the number six jersey of Scott Barrett, who normally play at lock, indicates that All Blacks coach Ian Foster plans to attack Ireland in the collision area.

A third Barrett brother, Jordie, will start at fullback.

Fainga'anuku gets his chance after Will Jordan tested positive for COVID during the week. Auckland Blues winger Mark Telea has been brought into the wider squad as extra cover.

Canterbury Crusaders centres David Havili and Jack Goodhue are also isolating after positive tests for the virus so Braydon Ennor earned a spot on the bench after being brought into the squad on Monday.

In the front row, Ofa Tuungafasi will start at tighthead prop with Angus Ta'avao backing up from the bench and Nepo Laulala left out of the matchday squad.

Foster, who also tested positive for COVID this week along with two of his assistants, said the selectors had taken into account the workload of players who were in action right until the end of the Super Rugby season.

"Whilst this week hasn't exactly gone to plan for us, our overall preparation has gone really well," he said.

"We have huge respect for this Irish team and can't wait to run out onto a packed Eden Park on Saturday."Team:

15-Jordie Barrett, 14-Sevu Reece, 13-Rieko Ioane, 12-Quinn Tupaea, 11-Leicester Fainga'anuku, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Ardie Savea, 7-Sam Cane (captain), 6-Scott Barrett, 5-Samuel Whitelock, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Ofa Tuungafasi, 2-Codie Taylor, 1-George Bower

Replacements: 16-Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17-Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18-Angus Ta'avao, 19-Pita Gus Sowakula, 20-Dalton Papalii, 21- Finlay Christie, 22-Richie Mo'unga, 23-Braydon Ennor

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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