Giant lock Dominic Bird and winger Frank Halai to make New Zealand debuts against Japan
Dan Carter and Richie McCaw to also get a run-out to improve their match fitness
Frank Halai: set to make his debut for the famed All Blacks against Japan on Saturday. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images
Giant lock Dominic Bird and winger Frank Halai will make their New Zealand debuts in the Test against Japan in Tokyo on Saturday.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and flyhalf Dan Carter, who have been troubled by injuries this year, were also named in the starting line-up as they attempt to get match-time before the world champions travel to Europe to face France, England and Ireland in November internationals.
Halai and Bird, at 2.06 metres the tallest ever All Black, will be joined by two other uncapped players, prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and flanker Luke Whitelock, who have been named on the bench.
“It is a great opportunity for our less capped players to drive the All Blacks week and preparation, which will then culminate in Saturday’s performance,” said coach Steve Hansen.
“The three selectors have been very mindful of using this game to gather some more information on our younger players but also using it to provide McCaw and Carter with some game time.”
Saturday’s match will be the first between the two sides outside the World Cup. The Blacks beat Japan 83-7 two years ago and 145-17 in 1995.