Christie only change for second England test

Halfback Finlay Christie takes charge during the first test against England in Dunedin last...
Halfback Finlay Christie takes charge during the first test against England in Dunedin last Saturday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Finlay Christie will start at halfback in place of TJ Perenara and Cortez Ratima looks set to make his All Blacks debut off the bench in the only changes to the matchday squad for the second test against England.

Perenara, playing his first test since 2022, injured his leg in New Zealand's 16-15 win over the tourists in Dunedin last weekend and has been ruled out of Saturday's match at Eden Park, forcing the change.

It will be Christie’s first test start since the All Blacks' 23-20 win over Australia in Dunedin in August last year. 

Dynamic halfback Ratima, 23, forced his way into the reckoning for the All Blacks squad with an outstanding season for the Chiefs in Super Rugby Pacific.

"Finlay has worked hard and earned his place in the starting side and it will be a proud day for Cortez and his whānau. He's a talented young man who is ready for test footy," coach Scott Robertson said in a statement. 

Damian McKenzie retained the No 10 shirt with Stephen Perofeta at fullback and former world player of the year Beauden Barrett, who recently returned from a spell in Japan, again named among the replacements.

Samipeni Finau kept his spot at openside flanker in an unchanged back row along with openside Dalton Papali'i and the reigning world player of the year, No 8 Ardie Savea.

New Zealand are unbeaten at Eden Park since 1994 with 48 wins and two draws in 50 tests.

"We can feel New Zealand's support here in Auckland and we will hear it at a sold-out Eden Park," Robertson added.

"It's a very special venue to the All Blacks, and we're going there on Saturday to win the series against England."

The All Blacks secured the Hillary Shield in Dunedin with a 16-15 first test win and can take the Steinlager Ultra Low Carb Series Trophy with a victory at Eden Park.

England were expected to name their side this afternoon. 

All Blacks v England

Eden Park, Auckland

Kick-off: 7:05pm on Saturday 


All Blacks (*uncapped): 1. Ethan de Groot 2. Codie Taylor 3. Tyrel Lomax 4. Scott Barrett (captain) 5, Patrick Tuipulotu, 6. Samipeni Finau 7. Dalton Papali'i 8. Ardie Savea (vice-captain) 9. Finlay Christie 10. Damian McKenzie 11. Mark Tele'a 12. Jordie Barrett 13. Rieko Ioane 14. Sevu Reece 15. Stephen Perofeta

Reserves: 16. Asafo Aumua 17. Ofa Tu'ungafasi 18. Fletcher Newell 19. Tupou Vaa'i 20. Luke Jacobson 21. Cortez Ratima* 22. Anton Lienert-Brown 23. Beauden Barrett