6 Jul 2015

George Moala to make All Blacks debut

9:39 am on 6 July 2015

The Blues midfielder George Moala will make his All Blacks debut on Wednesday after being named to start on the wing in the historic Test against Samoa in Apia.

George Moala playing for the Blues during the 2015 Super Rugby season.

George Moala playing for the Blues during the 2015 Super Rugby season. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A further three new All Blacks have been named on the reserves bench: prop Nepo Laulala, halfback Brad Weber and midfielder Charlie Ngatai.

Moala was earlier this year found guilty of assault following a brawl outside a bar in Auckland, but was later discharged without conviction.

The starting XV features plenty of experience in the forward pack, with 648 Test caps up front, courtesy of a front row of Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and Owen Franks, locks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano, and the familiar loose forward trio of Jerome Kaino, captain Richie McCaw and Kieran Read.

There are a further 224 Test caps in the starting backline, with halfback Andy Ellis returning to the All Blacks for the first time since 2011.

Dan Carter starts at first five-eighth, with Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty in the midfield.

Moala is on the right wing, Charles Piutau is on the left and Israel Dagg is at fullback.

On the bench, hooker Hikawera Elliot continues his rugby comeback after last playing for the All Blacks in 2012 and undergoing neck surgery in 2013.

Wyatt Crockett joins Laulala as prop cover while Brodie Retallick will provide lock cover.

Another returning All Black, Matt Todd, is loose forward reserve.

In the backs, Colin Slade joins Weber and Ngatai as backs reserves.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said the team was excited by the numerous challenges that the Test against Samoa will pose.

"It's exciting for the group to be playing this first ever All Blacks Test in Samoa and we know it's going to be a special occasion."

"The Samoans will be incredibly physical and keen to put in a huge performance in front of their fans and we will have to play with high intensity and accuracy with plenty of physicality."

"We have had a good build-up this week and, with it being a new season and our first Test of the year, we have tried to keep things as simple as possible and now looking forward to getting our season underway."

Meanwhile, All Blacks halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow and prop Joe Moody have been released to play for the Maori All Blacks, who will take on Fiji in Suva on Saturday.

The remaining All Blacks squad members, except loose forward Sam Cane, who shouldered a heavy Super Rugby workload, will travel to Samoa.

The All Blacks and Samoa have played each other five times since 1993 and this is the first Test to be played in Apia.

The last Test was on 3 September 2008 in New Plymouth.

New Zealand - starting XV:

1. Tony Woodcock (110)

2. Keven Mealamu (123)

3. Owen Franks (67)

4. Luke Romano (17)

5. Samuel Whitelock (62)

6. Jerome Kaino (56)

7. Richie McCaw - captain (137)

8. Kieran Read (72)

9. Andy Ellis (26)

10. Daniel Carter (102)

11. Charles Piutau (14)

12. Sonny Bill Williams (23)

13. Ryan Crotty (13)

14. George Moala

15. Israel Dagg (46)

Reserves:

16. Hikawera Elliot (3)

17. Wyatt Crockett (36)

18. Nepo Laulala

19. Brodie Retallick (36)

20. Matt Todd (2)

21. Brad Weber

22. Colin Slade (17)

23. Charlie Ngatai

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