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France v New Zealand: All Blacks make four changes for Rugby World Cup opener against France

Anton Lienert-Brown has 63 caps for New Zealand and was involved at the 2019 Rugby World Cup
Venue: Stade de France Date: Friday, 8 September Kick-off: 20:15 BST
Coverage: Listen to live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds and online; follow text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

New Zealand make four changes to their starting XV for their opening World Cup match against hosts France on Friday.

His brother Jordie Barrett is out with a knee injury and is replaced by Anton Lienert-Brown in the centres.

Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor and Dalton Papalii are the other changes.

Prop Laulala comes in for Tyrel Lomax, who suffered a nasty cut to his knee against the Springboks, while regular starting hooker Taylor replaces the 36-year-old Dane Coles.

The final change is in the back row as Papalii comes in for only his second start at blind-side flanker in place of Luke Jacobson.

Second row Scott Barrett – whose other brother Beauden starts at full-back – was cleared to play after an independent judicial committee decided no further punishment was required after his red card against South Africa.

The All Blacks go into the World Cup ranked fourth in the world after South Africa ended their 11-match unbeaten run at Twickenham, with hosts France ranked third.

“What makes it extra special is playing the host nation who are a very proud and in-form team,” New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said.

“World Cups are different. The initial goal is to qualify for the quarter-finals and to do that we must build our game through the pool stage.

“That starts in game one, where we have an opportunity to compete against one of the clear tournament favourites.”

Wing Emoni Narawa has been ruled out of the tournament because of a back injury with the All Blacks confirming a decision on his replacement will be made in due course.

Both New Zealand and France are favoured to progress from Pool A, which also contains Italy, Namibia and Uruguay.


New Zealand team to face France: B Barrett; Jordan, R John, Lienert-Brown, Telea; Mo’unga, Smith; De Groot, Taylor, Laulala; S Barrett, Whitelock; Papalii, Cane (capt), Savea.

Replacements: Taukei’aho, Tu’ungafasi, Newell, Vaa’i, Jacobson, Christie, Havili, Fainga’anuku.

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