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All Blacks squad naming: Razor's surprise call, veteran returns

Alex Powell,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Jul 2024, 10:13am

All Blacks squad naming: Razor's surprise call, veteran returns

Alex Powell,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Jul 2024, 10:13am

All Blacks coach Scott Robertson has named his first side of the season with Blues fullback Stephen Perofeta getting the nod over veteran Beauden Barrett at fullback to face England in Dunedin on Saturday.

Barrett will come off the bench for his first top level action at home this year following a season in Japan. TJ Perenara returns to test level after a two-year break and will start at halfback with Damian McKenzie in the 10 jersey outside of him. Samipeni Finau joins Dalton Papali’i and Ardie Savea, also returning from Japan, in the loose forward trio.

Scott Barrett will captain the All Blacks for the first time, paired up with winning Blues skipper Patrick Tuipulotu in the locks. Mark Tele’a and Sevu Reece will start on the wing.

Any thoughts of Crusaders bias from the multi-Super Rugby winning coach can brushed aside with the omission of Ethan Blackadder, with Luke Jacobson on the bench taking his likely place in the squad.

“This was a very tough squad to pick, but we’ve selected the best 23 players to beat England on Saturday,” Robertson said. “There is a lot of excitement in the group for our first test and we’re walking together toward this opportunity to represent New Zealand and our families in Dunedin in front of a sold out stadium. We’ve prepared well and we’re ready.”

The All Blacks squad has a collective 934 test caps in total with none of five new caps in the series squad named in the match-day 23 meaning no debutants this weekend.

A dynamic reserve bench is a mix of youthful energy and experience with backs Anton Lienert-Brown and Beauden Barrett bringing a combined 193 test caps to the squad.

Perenara and Reece have both overcome serious injury setbacks to earn their respective places in the starting lineup.

At 32-years-old, Perenara is set to play his first test in nearly two years after rupturing his Achilles during the All Blacks 25-25 draw with England in London in 2022. Reece, who was Super Rugby Pacific’s top try scorer this year, is also in line to play his first Test since 2022, after missing most of the 2023 season when he ruptured his ACL playing for the Crusaders.

Perofeta is in line to add to his three test caps after being named at fullback, in what will also be his first test cap since 2022, when he came off the bench against Scotland in Edinburgh.

Finau has been named to wear the No.6 jersey for what would be his second test after debuting at Forsyth Barr Stadium in 2023 where he scored a try during the All Blacks dramatic 23-20 Bledisloe Cup win over Australia.

The opening match of the All Blacks 2024 test season will mark the eleventh time the All Blacks and England have contested the Hillary Shield, which was introduced in 2008 to honour the legacy of Sir Edmund Hillary, and to recognise the links between the two countries.

All Blacks match-day 23 (Test caps in brackets)

1. Ethan de Groot (22)

2. Codie Taylor (85)

3. Tyrel Lomax (32)

4. Scott Barrett (69) (Captain)

5. Patrick Tuipulotu (43)

6. Samipeni Finau (1)

7. Dalton Papali’i (32)

8. Ardie Savea (81) (Vice Captain)

9. TJ Perenara (80)

10. Damian McKenzie (47)

11. Mark Tele’a (9)

12. Jordie Barrett (57) (Vice Captain)

13. Rieko Ioane (67)

14. Sevu Reece (23)

15. Stephen Perofeta (3)


16. Asafo Aumua (6)

17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (57)

18. Fletcher Newell (13)

19. Tupou Vaa’i (25)

20. Luke Jacobson (18)

21. Finlay Christie (21)

22. Anton Lienert-Brown (70)

23. Beauden Barrett (123)



All you need to know about Scott Robertson’s first test in charge as All Blacks coach.  

All Blacks v England - History  

England tour New Zealand for two tests, as they return here for the first time since 2014. The two teams open the series in Dunedin this Saturday before squaring off at Eden Park on July 13.  

The last time the two teams clashed was at Twickenham in 2022 when England scored three late tries in the final nine minutes to force a 25-25 draw. The previous meeting before that was the 2019 semifinal when England won 19-7. The All Blacks last win over England was in 2018. 

England haven’t won in New Zealand since 2003, just their second ever win over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil. 

Overall record All Blacks v England 

Played 43 

All Blacks won 33 

England won 8 

Draws 2 

All Blacks v England lineups 

All Blacks: To be named 


1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 94 caps) – vice-captain, 2. Jamie George (Saracens, 91 caps) – captain, 3. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 39 caps), 4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 82 caps) – vice-captain, 5. George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 13 caps), 6. Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins, 5 caps), 7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 36 caps), 8. Ben Earl (Saracens, 31 caps) – vice-captain, 9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 16 caps), 10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 33 caps), 11. Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 9 caps), 12. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 25 caps), 13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 63 caps) – vice-captain, 14. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps), 15. George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 10 caps).


16. Theo Dan (Saracens, 13 caps), 17. Fin Baxter (Harlequins, uncapped), 18. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 113 caps), 19. Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, 5 caps), 20. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 51 caps), 21. Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby, 5 caps), 22. Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, 3 caps), 23. Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

When is All Blacks team named to play England? 

Scott Robertson and his coaching staff name their squad at 11.30am on Thursday. 


Who will lead the haka for the All Blacks? 

The question may not be answered until Saturday night but TJ Perenara appears to be the likeliest option should be make his return to the test arena. 


Who will be the All Blacks captain? 

Scott Barrett was revealed as the new All Blacks captain when the squad was announced last month, replacing Sam Cane. Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett have been named as his vice-captains.


All Blacks v England first test referee 

Nika Amashukeli will referee the game. According to Rugby Database it will be his third time in charge of the All Blacks, which includes the 25-18 defeat to Argentina in 2022. 


All Blacks v England expert predictions 

Elliott Smith - All Blacks 1-12 

Liam Napier - All Blacks 1-12 

Alex Powell - All Blacks 13+ 

Jason Pine - All Blacks 1-12 

Nathan Limm - All Blacks 1-12 

Elijah Fa’afiu - All Blacks 1-12 


Weather forecast 

Forsyth Barr Stadium features a roof so no issue for the players on Saturday but it will be around seven degrees at kickoff. 


All Blacks v England TAB odds 

All Blacks: $1.17 Draw: $21 England: $4.60 


All Blacks v England How to follow the action 

For live commentary of All Blacks v England, join Elliott Smith on Newstalk ZB, Gold Sport and iHeartRadio. 

You can watch the game on Sky Sport 1 and live streaming on Sky Sport Now; an alternative commentary option from the Alternative Commentary Collective is available on iHeartRadio, Hauraki and Sky Sport 9. 

You can also find live updates at nzherald.co.nz. 

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