Hoskins Sotutu to start as All Blacks make minimal changes

Hoskins Sotutu will make his starting All Blacks debut at No.8 for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test against the Wallabies in Sydney.

Coach Ian Foster has largely stuck with the team that put Australia to the sword in the second test at Eden Park, with Sotutu replacing for Ardie Savea, who stayed behind in New Zealand for the birth of his second child.

Sotutu is one of three changes to the starting forward pack for Saturday, with Karl Tu'inukuafe comes in at loosehead prop for Joe Moody, who is unavailable due to the concussion he suffered in the Auckland match.

Sam Whitelock returns at starting lock in place of Tupou Vaa'i for the third Bledisleo Cup test, which doubles as the Rugby Championship opener, while prop Tyrel Lomax comes onto the bench for Nepo Laulala, who has also stayed home for the birth of his child.

Loose forward Dalton Papalii and midfielder Ngani Laumape also make their first appearances of 2020, with both on the bench.

Laumape has recovered from a broken arm that kept him out of the first two tests.

The dual playmakers have been retained, with Richie Mo'unga at first-five and Beauden Barrett at fullback.

Breakout wing Caleb Clarke, who starred at Eden Park, stays on the left wing, with Jordie Barrett retained on the right.

Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown are in the midfield with Aaron Smith at halfback, Dane Coles at hooker and Sam Cane and Shannon Frizell joining Sotutu in the loose forwards.

Foster said this week's approach to what would be a massive Test match was simple.

"It's the third Test of a four Test series and the Bledisloe Cup is on the line. It's a real chance for us to come into their home patch, a place which they take a lot of pride in playing and for a trophy which means a lot to them, and we need to show them how much it means to us. The chance to go and win a trophy that's precious to us is exciting."

On Hoskins Sotutu, Foster said: "He's had plenty of minutes already in the Bledisloe Cup series and he's ready to go. He's excited. It's a chance to start his first Test so it's pretty special for him."

Foster said the All Blacks were also hugely excited by the prospect of winning the Bledisloe Cup on Australian soil, the first time since 2009 that the team had had that challenge.

"None of our players, even our experienced ones, have had to win the trophy in Australia. In the past the deciding game has always been in New Zealand, so I think it's a great challenge for us."

Commenting on the Bledisloe Cup series to date, Foster added: "It's been a two-pronged learning approach for us. Firstly, we've been learning about how we can get better ourselves and we've been delighted with the way the new players especially have made progress there. Now we just need to cement the growth in our game.

Secondly, clearly, we've also been learning about the Australians."

The matchday 23 is as follows (Test caps in brackets):

1. Karl Tu'inukuafe (14)

2. Dane Coles (71)

3. Ofa Tuungafasi (37)

4. Patrick Tuipulotu (32)

5. Samuel Whitelock (118)

6. Shannon Frizell (11)

7. Sam Cane (70) - captain

8. Hoskins Sotutu (2)

9. Aaron Smith (94)

10. Richie Mo'unga (19)

11. Caleb Clarke (2)

12. Jack Goodhue (15)

13. Anton Lienert-Brown (45)

14. Jordie Barrett (19)

15. Beauden Barrett (85)

16. Codie Taylor (52)

17. Alex Hodgman (1)

18. Tyrel Lomax (2)

19. Scott Barrett (37)

20. Dalton Papalii (3)

21. TJ Perenara (66)

22. Ngani Laumape (13)

23. Rieko Ioane (31)