15 Jul 2015

Naholo to make All Blacks debut

5:25 am on 15 July 2015

The Highlanders wing Waisake Naholo will make his All Blacks debut on Friday night after being named in the starting XV to play Argentina in the opening Rugby Championship match in Christchurch.

Waisake Naholo and Jason Emery of the Highlanders celebrate after defeating the Chiefs.

Waisake Naholo and Jason Emery of the Highlanders celebrate after defeating the Chiefs. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 24-year-old Fiji born flyer, the top try scorer in Super Rugby this year, comes onto the right wing, replacing George Moala who made his test debut against Samoa last week.

Coach Steve Hansen resisted making wholesale changes to the team who scraped to a 25-16 victory over Samoa despite the influx of 17 players from the Hurricanes and Highlanders, who missed the Apia game because of the Super Rugby final.

Naholo, centre Ma'a Nonu and halfback TJ Perenara were the only players from the Super Rugby final brought into the starting team for Friday's match.

World Player of the Year lock Brodie Retallick has also shifted from the bench into the run on side in place of Sam Whitelock.

"We have a lot of respect for Argentina and what they bring and understand that we will have to improve our game quite considerably from our Samoan effort," Hansen said.

"With that in mind, the selectors did not want to make too many changes."

"It's a fine balancing act between getting game time for those who need it, giving others the rest they may need, and giving ourselves an opportunity to see players and combinations in the heat of the test battle so we can make good selections going forward."

The Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor should also make his test debut off the bench.

Hansen said while the World Cup was now clearly in their sights, he wanted the team to focus on each of their three Rugby Championship clashes as they came up.

"There has been a lot of talk about the Rugby World Cup and so forth, but this test match is all about the here and now," he said.

"It's important that we get away to a really good start... as we will only be playing each other once this year and we only have this one home game."

"We will need to get points early if we are going to give ourselves a chance of winning the Championship."

New Zealand: 15-Israel Dagg, 14-Waisake Naholo, 13-Ma'a Nonu, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Charles Piutau, 10-Daniel Carter, 9-TJ Perenara, 8-Kieran Read, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Brodie Retallick, 4-Luke Romano, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Keven Mealamu, 1-Tony Woodcock .

Replacements: 16-Codie Taylor, 17-Wyatt Crockett, 18-Nepo Laulala, 19-Jeremy Thrush, 20-Liam Messam, 21-Andy Ellis, 22-Colin Slade, 23-Ryan Crotty.

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