Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks braced for Tongan impact in Hamilton

All Blacks rookies Josh Ioane and Luke Jacobson look set to play prominent roles in the final Rugby World Cup hit-out against Tonga on Saturday.

The pair were named on the bench of a New Zealand team that balances the need to fine-tune playing patterns with that of giving second-stringers game time before leaving for Japan, while also nursing a series of niggling injuries.

Ioane is the only non-World Cup player in the All Blacks line-up for Hamilton, called in to cover for injured first-five Richie Mo'unga, who tweaked his shoulder in their last outing against Australia.

While the Highlanders pivot was also named against Argentina in July, but never left the bench, so this another chance for him to open his international account.

all blacks team
Photo credit: Newshub.

Loose forward Jacobson made his debut that day, clocking 24 minutes at the end of the 20-16 win, but missed an opportunity to build on that performance, when he was concussed in training and spent several weeks on the sidelines.

In Mo'unga's absence, coach Steve Hansen has predictably reverted back to Beauden Barrett in the No.10 jersey, after he had played at fullback in recent tests. Veteran Ben Smith also shifts from the wing to No.15, probably his more natural position.  

Hooker Dane Coles earns a rest, with Codie Taylor starting in his place and Liam Coltman covering the position off the bench.

Likewise, Sam Cane won't dress for the game - Matt Todd starts at openside flanker, with Jacobson covering loose forwards among the reserves.

At halback, TJ Perenara starts, with Aaron Smith sliding back to the bench.

Midfielder Ryan Crotty, who is also returning from injury, replaces Sonny Bill Williams at second-five, with Williams and Jack Goodhue both dinged up.

Wings Sevu Reece and George Bridge have retained their starting spots, leaving no room for Rieko Ioane - apparently with a tight calf - in the playing group.

Among the substitutes, Scott Barrett returns to action, after a three-game suspension for a head-high tackle against Australian last month.

Meanwhile, Tonga have named a mix of youth and experience for the clash, highlighted by the selection of Siua Maile - a roofer from Christchurch - for an international debut at hooker.

The 'Ikale Tahi' emerged from the Pacific Nations Cup with just one win against Canada and fell 29-19 to Fiji in last week's Pasifika Challenge at Eden Park.  

All Blacks: 1-Joe Moody, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Patrick Tuipulotu, 5-Sam Whitelock, 6-Ardie Savea, 7-Matt Todd, 8-Kieran Read, 9-TJ Perenara, 10-Beauden Barrett, 11-George Bridge, 12-Ryan Crotty, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-Ben Smith

Reserves: 16-Liam Coltman, 17-Ofa Tuungafasi, 18-Angus Ta'avao, 19-Scott Barrett, 20-Luke Jacobson, 21-Aaron Smith, 22-Josh Ioane, 23-Jordie Barrett

Tonga: 1-Siegfried Fisiihoi, 2-Siua Maile, 3-Siua Halanukonuka, 4-Sam Lousi, 5-Leva Fifita, 6-Sione Kalamafoni, 7-Fotu Lokotui, 8-Maama Vaipulu, 9-Sonatane Takulua, 10-Kurt Morath, 11-Viliami Lolohea, 12-Siale Piutau, 13-Malietoa Hingano, 14-Cooper Vuna, 15-David Halaifonua

Reserves: 16-Sione Anga'aelangi, 17-Vunipola Fifita, 18-Ma'afu Fia, 19-Dan Faleafa, 20-Zane Kapeli, 21- Leon Fukofuka, 22-James Faiva, 23-Atieli Pakalani

More to come

Join us at 2:30pm Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v Tonga clash

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

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