All Blacks v USA: Lock Josh Lord named for All Blacks test debut off bench in Washington DC

Newcomer Josh Lord will make his test debut off the bench for the All Blacks against USA at FedEx Field in Washington DC on Sunday (NZ time).

After a handful of impressive NPC displays for Taranaki and five Super Rugby appearances with the Chiefs, Lord was a shock replacement in the All Blacks squad for this year's northern tour.

The 20-year-old has been named to the reserves bench and will likely spell starting lock Tupou Vaa'i, who'll pack down alongside returning captain Sam Whitelock.

Whitelock will play his first test since the 59-22 demolition of Australia at Eden Park on August 14, having rejoined the squad after remaining in New Zealand to await the birth of his third child. 

Joining Lord on the bench will be Sam Cane, with the flanker set to play his first test international since 2020, after suffering a pectoral injury with the Chiefs in the early stages of this year's Super Rugby Aotearoa.

The rest of the side looks vastly different to that which took the field in the All Blacks Rugby Championship finale against South Africa earlier this month, with Luke Jacobson the only remaining starter from that side.

All Blacks v USA: Lock Josh Lord named for All Blacks test debut off bench in Washington DC
Photo credit: Getty/Newshub.

Richie Mo'unga reclaims the No. 10 jersey to pair with Finlay Christie, who'll make his first test start, while Beauden Barrett shifts to the bench.

In the midfield, centre Braydon Ennor continues his comeback from a back injury to also make his first test start, partnering with second-five Quinn Tupaea.

Will Jordan and George Bridge are on the wings and Damian McKenzie is at fullback. The All Blacks will have experience in the back reserves, with TJ Perenara, Anton Lienert-Brown and  Barrett on the bench.

Up front, Southland prop Ethan de Groot will make his debut in the run-on side - having earned his two prior caps off the bench - alongside Angus Ta'avao and hooker Asafo Aumua.

Jacobson shifts to the side of the scrum to accomodate Hoskins Sotutu at No. 8, with Dalton Papalii rounding out the loose forward trio.

Head coach Ian Foster says the team is primed and ready to become the fifth All Blacks team to play the Eagles, after an enjoyable week's build-up in unfamiliar territory.

"The early part of the week was about recovering from our travel and getting clarity around some concepts in our game and we have slowly been building in intensity and getting into our work," Foster says.

"The chance for us to play in a new city and new stadium is pretty special and the group is really excited and looking forward to the occasion.

"It's time to get back into our groove after our break in Australia and with a number of players having not played for awhile. It's time to get our game going again and we are ready to go."

Foster believes he's seen enough from his debutant Lord to unleash the rangey second-rower in the test environment.

"Josh Lord is a young man who’s been really enthusiastic since he came in," notes Foster. "He's bringing a lot of energy and learning a lot and we're looking forward to seeing him go."

In regards to Blues halfback Christie, Foster says: "[He] has made the most of his opportunities and he just keeps growing his game and getting better and better... we're delighted at how he's going."

The All Blacks and USA will be playing for the 1874 Cup, which references the year rugby was first played in the United States - a collegiate match between McGill and Harvard University.

All Blacks: 1-Ethan de Groot 2-Asafo Aumua, 3-Angus Ta'avao, 4-Sam Whitelock (capt.), 5-Tupou Vaa'i, 6-Luke Jacobson, 7-Dalton Papalii, 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 9-Finlay Christie, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-George Bridge, 12-Quinn Tupaea, 13-Braydon Ennor, 14-Will Jordan, 15-Damian McKenzie

Reserves: 16-Dane Coles, 17-George Bower, 18-Tyrel Lomax, 19-Josh Lord, 20-Sam Cane, 21-TJ Perenara, 22-Beauden Barrett, 23-Anton Lienert-Brown

Join Newshub for live updates of the All Blacks v USA from 8:30am Sunday.