Rugby World Cup: Sam Cane on bench, Ardie Savea to captain as All Blacks bring back injured quartet for must-win clash against Italy

Captain Sam Cane will start on the bench, with the All Blacks naming a quartet of injured players to return in Saturday's must-win pool match against Italy at Lyon.

Cane, 31, has not played at this year's World Cup, after suffering a back injury in the lead-in to the All Blacks' tournament-opening loss to France.

After missing out on victory over Namibia altogether, Cane will be eased back into the side, starting on the bench, as Dalton Papali'i retains the No.7 jersey. Ardie Savea will continue to captain the side, while Shannon Frizell returns to the starting side at blindside flanker.

Sam Cane.
Sam Cane. Photo credit: Getty Images

One of the All Blacks' standouts so far in 2023, Frizell has also been absent from the World Cup, after suffering a hamstring injury before the tournament.

Jordie Barrett will start in the No.12 jersey, after battling a knee injury, partnering Rieko Ioane in midfield. Prop Tyrel Lomax is another to return on the bench, after a cut to his leg in the All Blacks' warm-up defeat to South Africa at Twickenham.

With Ethan de Groot banned for a red card against Namibia, Ofa Tu'ungafasi starts in the front row, joining Codie Taylor and Nepo Laulala, while rookie Tamaiti Williams will also start on the bench.

Scott Barrett and Brodie Retallick have been named as the locking pair, with Sam Whitelock on the bench, as he looks to surpass Richie McCaw as New Zealand's most-capped player.

Aaron Smith starts at halfback, while Cam Roigard has beaten Finlay Christie to take the back-up spot on the bench.

Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett start as first-five and fullback respectively, while Damian McKenzie will cover both from the bench.  

"Italy is growing in confidence after winning their first two games and they represent a massive challenge for us after coming off our bye week," said head coach Ian Foster.

"We fully respect their growth over the last two years and are expecting a huge game, with both teams having everything to play for."

After losing their tournament opener to France, the All Blacks cannot afford another slip-up - another defeat would see them exit at the pool stage for the first time.

All Blacks: 1-Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Brodie Retallick, 5-Scott Barrett, 6-Shannon Frizell, 7-Dalton Papali'i, 8-Ardie Savea (c), 9-Aaron Smith, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-Mark Telea, 12-Jordie Barrett, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-Will Jordan, 15-Beauden Barrett

Reserves: 16-Dane Coles, 17-Tamaiti Williams, 18-Tyrel Lomax, 19-Sam Whitelock, 20-Sam Cane, 21-Cam Roigard, 22-Damian McKenzie, 23-Anton Lienert-Brown

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