Telea handed All Blacks debut as Foster targets exciting display against Scotland

By Sports Desk November 11, 2022

Mark Telea will make his New Zealand debut when Ian Foster's side go in search of a sixth consecutive win in Sunday's clash with Scotland at Murrayfield.

The All Blacks maintained their remarkable 69-year unbeaten run against Wales by racking up a dominant 55-23 success in Cardiff last Saturday, but Foster has opted to ring the changes for Sunday's Test.

Blues wing Telea is one of the chief beneficiaries of Foster's decision to make seven changes, and the 25-year-old is thrilled by the prospect of making his international debut.

"I was just chilling, waiting for someone else's name to get called out, and I was kind of surprised. It's straight into homework after this," Telea said.

"It's more special for my family, for all the work they've seen me putting through and the outcome of it all – that's why it's special.

"I told my mum, my dad and my sister and they were overjoyed – tears through their eyes. The old man was happy, he's been there from the beginning and seen all the hard work."

Caleb Clarke is the only man to retain his place in the All Blacks' backline following the win over Wales, allowing David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown – whose last Test start came against Ireland in November 2021 – to slot in.

With Richie Mo'unga rested, Beauden Barrett moves from full-back to first-five, with Scottish-born half-back Finlay Christie also being handed a start against his country of birth.

With New Zealand posting a strong run of form since suffering a shock Rugby Championship defeat to Argentina in August, Foster is intrigued to see how his much-changed team will fare. 

"We've selected a team that excites us this week," Foster said. "In many ways, this Test is crucial for our tour as a whole, and it's a chance to show how we're building as a group."

Scotland have made three changes on the back of last week's 28-12 win over Fiji, meanwhile, with Finn Russell earning his 64th cap after being recalled to the starting XV.

Russell, who has not been involved since the Six Nations in March, is drafted into the side along with hooker Fraser Brown and centre Sione Tuipulotu.

Scotland: Hogg; Graham, Harris, Tuipulotu, Van der Merwe; Russell, Price; Schoeman, Brown, Z Fagerson, R Gray, Gilchrist, Ritchie, Watson, M Fagerson.

Replacements: Ashman, Sutherland, Nel, J Gray, Dempsey, White, Kinghorn, Bennett.

New Zealand: Barrett, Telea, Lienert-Brown, Havili, Clarke, Barrett, Christie; De Groot, Taukei'aho, Laulala, Whitelock, Barrett, Akira Ioane, Papali'i, Savea. 

Replacements: Taylor, Bower, Newell, Vaa'i, Frizell, Perenara, Perofeta, Rieko Ioane.

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