the essential First meeting of the autumn tests for the New Zealanders this Saturday, a few days after the announcement of a death which shook several players of the selection.
Three-quarters of the Waikato Chiefs, Sean Wainui, had never played with the All Blacks. But the disappearance of this father of two in a car accident on Monday at the age of 21 left the men in black who, for good many of them had known him in a club.
“It touched us deep inside us because it shows how fragile life can be,” responded hooker Codie Taylor, bursting into tears at a press conference.
“A lot of people here are heartbroken over Sean’s death,” also admitted second line Sam Whitelock, who is taking over the captaincy.
The double world champion (2011, 2015) had been absent for several weeks to stay with his family on the occasion of the birth of her third child. He will guide a very renewed team against the “Eagles”.
The third line wing Sam Cane, official captain of New Zealand, will be on the bench for his return after long months of convalescence linked to a pectoral operation.
Finally, the flanker Luke Jacobson is the only survivor of the XV of the All Blacks, beaten by the South African world champions (29 – 29) on October 2, at the end of the Rugby Championship that the New Zealanders were nevertheless already guaranteed to win. It is also the only setback in ten matches suffered since the start of the year by Ian Foster’s men. “There is a clear opportunity for everyone” to make a place for the rest of the tour in Europe, assured the coach.
The triple world champions will play with an unprecedented hinge, made up of star Richie Mo’unga and scrum-half Finlay Christie, who started for the first time. The Braydon Ennor center and the Ethan pillar of Groot – 2 selections each – will also start in a new way.
This does not prevent the All Blacks from being huge favorites in front of the United States.
The Eagles remain on a defeat in Uruguay (34 – 15) on October 9, a first missed opportunity to qualify for the World Cup 2023 in France.