Controversial Crusaders wing Sevu Reece has been named for his All Blacks debut against Argentina on Sunday (NZT).
Reece will become All Black number 1182, when he starts the Rugby Championship opener in Buenos Aires on the right wing, while four others - prop Atu Moli, loose forward Luke Jacobson, first-five Josh Ioane and utility back Braydon Ennor have been selected on the bench.
Many questioned Reece's inclusion in the squad this month, after a brush with the law that saw him face domestic violence charges in Hamilton 12 months ago.
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The Fijian-born wing pleaded guilty, but was dismissed without conviction, when the judge chose not to jeopardise his professional rugby career.
Irish club Connacht cancelled his contract, but Reece was picked up by the Crusaders as injury cover and finished the Super Rugby competition as top try-scorer.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen justified his national selection, insisting Reece had turned over a new leaf in Christchurch and deserved a second chance.
Reece, Ennor and wing George Bridge were the only Crusaders players taken to Argentina for the opening international game of the year - nine others were left home to recover from their Super Rugby championship campaign.
Hansen admitted his desire to gauge Reece at the next level saw him chosen ahead of established right-wing option Rieko Ioane.
"We're excited about the team we've selected," he said. "We think it's a very, very good side and one that's capable of playing a very good test match."
Other features of the side include:
- Specialist tighthead prop Ofa Tuungafasi named at loosehead to show his versatility
- Sam Cane as captain, in the absence of Kieran Read and Sam Whitlock
- Back-up openside flanker Ardie Savea deputising for Read at number eight
- Experienced inside-back combination of Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett
- Relatively inexperienced midfield combo of Ngani Laumape and Anton Lienert-Brown
- Utility back Jordie Barrett on the left wing for the first time at international level
- Seven bench players with a combined total of just 21 caps - 17 belong to prop Nepo Laulala
All Blacks: 1-Ofa Tuungafasi, 2-Dane Coles, 3-Angus Ta'avao, 4-Brodie Retallick, 5-Patrick Tuipulotu, 6-Vaea Fifita, 7-Sam Cane, 8-Ardie Savea, 9-Aaron Smith, 10-Beauden Barrett, 11-Jordie Barrett, 12-Ngani Laumape, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-Ben Smith
Reserves: 16-Liam Coltman, 17-Atu Moli, 18-Nepo Laulala, 19-Jackson Hemopo, 20-Luke Jacobson, 21-Brad Weber, 22-Josh Ioane, 23-Braydon Ennor
Join us at 6am Sunday for live updates of the All Blacks v Argentina Rugby Championship clash