25 Aug 2016

Lienert-Brown keen to make most of All Blacks debut

3:54 pm on 25 August 2016

Chiefs midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown will make his All Blacks debut on Saturday night after being named to start at second-five against the Wallabies in Wellington.

All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown will make his debut this weekend.

All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown will make his debut this weekend. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The All Blacks had lost four four midfield options to injury with Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, George Moala and Charlie Ngatai unavailable, meaning one of three rookies was likely to be thrust into the run on role.

The 21-year-old has beaten out uncapped 19-year-old Reiko Ioane and Chiefs team-mate centre Seta Taminivalu for the starting midfield spot alongside Malakai Fekitoa. Two-test centre Taminivalu is on the bench, while Ioane misses the match-day 23.

Coach Steve Hansen said Lienert-Brown was deserving of his debut.

"He had a very good Super season with strong performances throughout and we expect him to take the step up. We're really looking forward to seeing him play in the international arena.

"It'll be a special night for Anton on Saturday and he and his family can be proud of what he has achieved."

Lienert-Brown admitted it is a big step-up and he is both nervous and excited.

"I've talked to a few of the boys and coaches but I think it's pretty basic - just try not to get too overwhelmed by the occasion and make sure it's a special one and I make the most of the opportunity," he said.

Israel Dagg and Julian Savea start on the wings with Ben Smith shifting from the wing to fullback.

Waisake Naholo is injured.

The outstanding Beauden Barrett starts at first-five while Dane Coles is at hooker and Joe Moody returns as a starting prop alongside Owen Franks.

James Parsons has won the role of reserve hooker.

Sam Cane again starts at openside for Saturday's second Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup clash, with Ardie Savea on the bench.

Prop Wyatt Crockett set to play his 50th Test from the bench. In the other changes, James Parsons' experience sees him named at replacement hooker, while Seta Tamanivalu is in the 23 jersey as back cover.

"We'd also like to congratulate 'Crocky' on what will be his 50th Test," said Hansen. "That's also a special milestone for an All Black.

"'Crocky' is the ultimate team man who has worked hard throughout his career. His attitude and performances since bouncing back from non-selection for the Rugby World Cup squad in 2011 epitomises everything you want in a team member and he can be very proud of what he has achieved."

Hansen believes the biggest challenge this week will be maintaining their standards after a standout performance in last week's 42-8 win over the Wallabies in Sydney.

"There's no doubt that one of the hardest things to do in sport is to back up a big performance with another big performance. It's totally a mental thing, so that is something we've been working really hard on this week: getting our feet back on the ground and our attitudes right for what is going to be a really physical and demanding Test.

"Australia is a proud side and will not have been happy with their performance last week. As a result, we're expecting them to throw everything they've got at us. This should lead to a very exciting, physical and high-intensity Test match with the Bledisloe Cup being in the balance."

The match-day 23 is (with Test caps in brackets. New All Blacks in bold):

1. Joe Moody (14)

2. Dane Coles (40)

3. Owen Franks (81)

4. Brodie Retallick (51)

5. Samuel Whitelock (76)

6. Jerome Kaino (70)

7. Sam Cane (35)

8. Kieran Read - captain (88)

9. Aaron Smith (51)

10. Beauden Barrett (40)

11. Julian Savea (44)

12. Anton Lienert-Brown

13. Malakai Fekitoa (16)

14. Israel Dagg (52)

15. Ben Smith (52)

16. James Parsons (1)

17. Wyatt Crockett (49)

18. Charlie Faumuina (37)

19. Liam Squire (2)

20. Ardie Savea (3)

21. TJ Perenara (20)

22. Aaron Cruden (40)

23. Seta Tamanivalu (2)