Two debutants named in All Blacks 23 to play Ireland

Crusaders winger Leicester Fainga'anuku will make his All Blacks debut on the wing, while Chiefs loosie Pita Gus Sowakula will debut off the bench in Saturday night's first test against Ireland at Eden Park.

Fainga'anuku was one of the outstanding finishers in Super Rugby this year and played a big part in the Crusaders run to the title.

Sowakula was also impressive for the Chiefs.

Scott Barrett wears the number 6 jersey with captain Sam Cane at 7 and Ardie Savea at the back of the scrum.

Fainga'anuku gets his first start in the number 11 jersey with fellow Crusader Sevu Reece on the right wing.

After getting called up as cover due to Covid affecting players, Braydon Ennor comes into the 23.

The team sees George Bower named as loosehead prop, with Ofa Tu'ungafasi on the other side of the scrum.

Named to play his 133rd All Blacks Test Sam Whitelock surpasses Keven Mealamu as the second most-capped All Black Test player of all time (behind Richie McCaw), in what is his 12th season with the team.

Head Coach Ian Foster said the selectors were excited to name the first All Blacks test team for 2022.

"This is doubly exciting for us playing at a packed Eden Park for our first test of the year, leading into a sold out series."

"After what seems like a long time away from home, it couldn't be scripted better to be back in front of our fans for this match."

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

In selecting this team, Foster said they've had to take into account managing players coming from Super Rugby Pacific.

"We've prepared rigorously for this match, albeit only having a ten day period together."

"We have huge respect for this Irish team and can't wait to run out onto a packed Eden Park on Saturday to kick off the 2022 Steinlager series."

There is a rich history between the two teams which first met in 1905. Saturday will mark the 34th Test between the All Blacks and Ireland but just the fourth played at Eden Park.

Aaron Smith, Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock are the three current All Blacks who played Ireland when they last visited Eden Park in 2012.

The full team:

1/ George Bower (11)

2/ Codie Taylor (66)

3/ Ofa Tu'ungafasi (44)

4/ Brodie Retallick (92)

5/ Samuel Whitelock (132)

6/ Scott Barrett (48)

7/ Sam Cane (77) Captain

8/ Ardie Savea (59)

9/ Aaron Smith (102)

10/Beauden Barrett (101)

11/Leicester Fainga'anuku* (0)

12/Quinn Tupaea (7)

13/Rieko Ioane (47)

14/Sevu Reece (17)

15Jordie Barrett (36)

16/Samisoni Taukei'aho (9)

17/Karl Tu'inukuafe (25)

18/Angus Ta'avao (20)

19/Pita Gus Sowakula (0)*

20/Dalton Papalii (12)

21/Finlay Christie (5)

22/Richie Mo'unga (32)

23/Braydon Ennor (4)


Photo PHOTOSPORT Caption: Crusaders winger Leicester Fainga'anuku