NZ-born Anscombe back for Wales against the All Blacks

·4-min read

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — New Zealand-born flyhalf Gareth Anscombe will make his first appearance for Wales in more than two years in the test match against the All Blacks on Saturday.

Anscombe, who qualifies to play for Wales via his mother, sustained a serious knee injury during a Rugby World Cup warmup game against England in August 2019.

He has won the race for the No. 10 jersey in a lineup that sees 21-year-old flanker Taine Basham handed a first international start.

Anscombe, who has won 27 caps for the Welsh, returned to action last month and has started three matches for Welsh region the Ospreys in the United Rugby Championship.

With the match falling outside World Rugby’s autumn international window, Wales are without England-based players like Dan Biggar, Taulupe Faletau and Louis Rees-Zammit because they are not released by their clubs.

Key players George North, Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric are all currently sidelined through injury, while center Willis Halaholo is isolating after testing positive for the coronavirus and fullback Liam Williams is recovering from appendix surgery.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones wins his 149th Wales cap to overtake retired New Zealand great Richie McCaw’s total for one country. Jones has also played in 12 tests for the British and Irish Lions.

On the bench, meanwhile, flyhalf Rhys Priestland is called up by Wales after an absence of four years.

Wales has not beaten the All Blacks since 1953, losing 31 successive games in that time including 16 defeats in Cardiff.

Beauden Barrett will start at flyhalf in his 100th test for the All Blacks, who return to full strength after using an experimental lineup in a 104-14 win over the United States last weekend.

Barrett has edged Richie Mo'unga in a tight contest for the No. 10 jersey. Mo'unga is named on the bench.

“It’s a very special time for Beauden and his family and it’s also a special time for this team and its legacy," head coach Ian Foster said. "He’s a big part of this team, he’s a key leader, he’s captained the All Blacks, he’s vice captain on this tour and he’s an influencer on and off the park.

"I can’t speak more highly about his contribution as a person to the black jersey. The chance to play his 100th test at this stadium against Wales is really special.”

Jordie Barrett returns at fullback with Rieko Ioane and Will Jordan on the wings. Jordan took his tally to 15 tries in 10 tests with a hat trick against the United States.

Anton Lienert-Brown and David Havili will combine in midfield while T.J. Perenara will start at scrumhalf with Brad Weber on the bench.

Foster has named Ardie Savea at No. 8 and Ethan Blackadder and Dalton Papalii in his backrow with captain Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick in a strong second row.

Codie Taylor will start at hooker with the powerful Samisoni Taukei’aho on the bench.

Foster said the All Blacks would not underestimate Wales, despite the absence of several key players.

“The Welsh will play with their traditional passion and their fans singing in the stadium and they’ll throw everything at us," he said. "They are Six Nations champions and a very good team. They have a group of young players coming through who’ll be excited to play so we will have to be ready and we are.”

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Wales: Johnny McNicholl, Owen Lane, Jonathan Davies, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams; Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham, Ross Moriarty, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Adam Beard, Tomas Francis, Ken Owens, Wyn Jones. Reserves: Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Will Rowlands, Seb Davies, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Ben Thomas.

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, T. J. Perenara; Ardie Savea, Dalton Papalii, Ethan Blackadder, Sam Whitelock (captain), Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa’i, Akira Ioane, Brad Weber, Richie Mo’unga, Sevu Reece.

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