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All Blacks drop key man for disciplinary breach as team to face Ireland revealed

New Zealand take on Ireland in Paris on Saturday evening and head coach Ian Foster has made a big selection call

Luke Baker
in Paris
Thursday 12 October 2023 18:51 BST
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The All Blacks face a World Cup quarter-final against Ireland
The All Blacks face a World Cup quarter-final against Ireland (Getty Images)

Mark Telea has been dropped by New Zealand for their crunch Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Ireland after breaching team protocol.

Explosive winger Telea has scored three tries in his two appearances at this World Cup, against France on the opening night and in the thrashing of Italy, while he was rested against Namibia and Uruguay in preparation for the quarter-finals.

However, whispers emerged this week that he would be left out of the squad for the last-eight clash on Saturday evening for the breach of team protocol and this was confirmed by Ian Foster when he named his matchday 23, with the 26-year-old absent – although the head coach said it wasn’t a major breach and insisted “I still love him”. Foster declined to go into any more detail about the incident, although Telea is thought to have missed curfew.

It means Leicester Fainga’anuku, who scored a hat-trick against Namibia, starts on the left wing to form a back three with Will Jordan and Beauden Barrett.

Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax start as the props, with De Groot returning from his red-card ban for a high shot against Namibia and Lomax having recovered from injury to be selected. The more explosive options of Tamaiti Williams and Fletcher Newell are preferred to the experience of Ofa Tuʻungafasi and Nepo Laulala as prop cover on the bench.

Brodie Retallick and Scott Barrett are the starting locks, meaning veteran Sam Whitelock is limited to a bench role, while prodigiously talented scrum half Cam Roigard doesn’t make the 23 after Foster challenged him to improve the sharpness of his passing, with the more reliable Finlay Christie selected as replacement No 9 behind starter Aaron Smith.

“We are where we want to be,” said Foster. “World Cup quarter-finals are so exciting for many reasons, and we know the pressure they bring.

“We have had a solid week of preparation and know that it is now about trusting the work we have done and going out to play. We feel the massive support we have had from Kiwis both at home and here in France. We greatly appreciate it.

“We have huge respect for Ireland who are number one in the world for a reason. We are excited by the opportunity we have in front of us and expect to be tested in many ways. That is what World Cups are about.”

New Zealand XV: 15. Beauden Barrett; 14. Will Jordan, 13. Rieko Ioane, 12. Jordie Barrett, 11. Leicester Fainga’anuku; 10. Richie Mo’unga, 9. Aaron Smith; 1. Ethan de Groot, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Tyrel Lomax; 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Scott Barrett; 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Sam Cane (captain), 8. Ardie Savea.

Replacements: 16. Dane Coles, 17. Tamaiti Williams, 18. Fletcher Newell, 19. Sam Whitelock, 20. Dalton Papali’i, 21. Finlay Christie, 22. Damian McKenzie, 23. Anton Lienert-Brown.

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