Perofeta Gets All Blacks nod to Face England



Full-back Stephen Perofeta will start for New Zealand against England in the first match of their two-Test series on Saturday in Dunedin.

Three-cap Perofeta, 27, is preferred to 2015 Rugby World Cup winner Beauden Barrett, who has been named on the bench.

Barrett, who has 123 caps, can also play at fly-half but new head coach Scott Robertson has named Damian McKenzie at 10.

McKenzie's half-back partner is TJ Perenara, who returns after an Achilles injury.

Saturday's match will also be Scott Barrett's first as the new All Blacks captain.

The matchday squad selection is Robertson's first since taking charge of the team.

He was appointed in November and replaced Ian Foster who steered the team to the 2023 World Cup final against South Africa. New Zealand lost by a single point to the Springboks.

"This was a very tough squad to pick, but we've selected the best 23 players to beat England on Saturday," Robertson said.

"There is a lot of excitement in the group for our first Test and we're walking together toward this opportunity to represent New Zealand and our families in Dunedin in front of a sold-out stadium. We've prepared well and we're ready."

The first Test against England will be followed by a second match on 13 July at Eden Park in Auckland.

Steve Borthwick's England are looking to make history as they have never won a Test series in New Zealand.

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