Sotutu to start for New Zealand in 3rd test vs Australia

SYDNEY (AP) — Hoskins Sotutu will start a test for the first time when New Zealand plays Australia in the third Bledisloe Cup rugby test on Saturday.

Sotutu came off the bench in the first two tests of the series, making his debut in the drawn first test at Wellington.

He will start at the back of the scrum in Sydney in place of Ardie Savea, who is absent on paternity leave.

Sotutu is the son of former Fiji international Waisake Sotutu and one of four All Blacks to have made their test debuts during the current series.

Veteran lock Sam Whitelock returns from a head injury and Karl Tu’inukuafe takes over at loosehead prop from Joe Moody in other changes to the starting lineup which won the second test 27-7 in Auckland. Moody had a concussion in the second test and is still subject to head injury protocols.

The All Blacks backline is unchanged with powerful youngster Caleb Clarke again starting on the left wing. Three-test backrower Dalton Papalii joins the bench along with center Ngani Laumape.

New Zealand will retain the Bledisloe Cup, which it has held since 2002, if it wins on Saturday. Australia must win to keep the series alive heading into the final test at Brisbane on Nov. 7.

“It’s the third test of a four-test series and the Bledisloe Cup is on the line,” All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said. “It’s a real chance for us to come into their home patch, a place which they take a lot of pride in playing and for a trophy which means a lot to them, and we need to show them how much it means to us. The chance to go and win a trophy that’s precious to us is exciting.”

“None of our players, even our experienced ones, have had to win the trophy in Australia. In the past the deciding game has always been in New Zealand, so I think it’s a great challenge for us.”

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New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jack Goodhue, Caleb Clarke, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Cane (captain), Shannon Frizell, Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Dane Coles, Karl Tu’inukuafe. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Alex Hodgman, Tyrel Lomax, Scott Barrett, Dalton Papalii, T.J. Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Rieko Ioane.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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