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New Zealand lineup for second match in Auckland

Chiefs halfback Cortez Ratima is poised to make his All Blacks debut as new coach Scott Robertson named an otherwise settled team for the second of two Tests against England in Auckland on Saturday.

Ratima has been a prolific try scorer in Super Rugby Pacific and gets his opportunity following a knee injury to veteran TJ Perenara.

The 23-year-old has been named on the bench for the Eden Park Test while Finlay Christie gets his first start for New Zealand since the 23-20 Bledisloe Cup win over Australia in Dunedin in August.

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Cortez Ratima and Finlay Christie of the All Blacks during a training session. Getty

“He’s (Ratima) a good kid,” Robertson said.

“He’s extremely competitive. He likes to win everything. Once he realised he’d been named, he just got on with it. He’s got a pretty good couple of mentors in front of him that he can learn off and now is his opportunity.”

The All Blacks beat England 16-15 in a high quality opening Test under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium last weekend.

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New Zealand haven’t lost at Eden Park since a 23-20 loss to France in 1994 with a remarkable 48 Test wins and two draws since.

“It is our spiritual home, it is our fortress,” All Blacks great Ian Jones told the BBC.

“And when you think of it as your fortress, you protect your fortress with all your might.

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“The All Blacks jersey lifted you anyway, but you absolutely knew the expectation to play with all your heart and to not lose at Eden Park. And because of that history, you feel bulletproof.”

But England assistant coach Richard Wigglesworth did his best to downplay the past.

“A lot our lads haven’t played there,” Wigglesworth said.

“It is an impressive record. But it has not been the focus of our week.

“It’s not our record to try and get. It’s their record to protect. And they’ve done that for a long time, but it will go some time.”

England have also made just one change to their starting lineup with young prop Fin Baxter replacing the injured Joe Marler.

“Eden Park is a stadium packed with history and with memories of great rugby encounters,” England coach Steve Borthwick said.

“We are delighted to be playing there this Saturday in what I anticipate will be another excellent Test encounter. New Zealand has a formidable record at this venue, but with that comes the pressure of expectation. It will be interesting to see how New Zealand manages that expectation in front of a full house.”

The Test kicks off at 5.05pm AEST with coverage on Stan Sport from 4pm AEST.

NEW ZEALAND (15-1): Stephen Perofeta, Sevu Reece, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Mark Tele’a, Damian McKenzie, Finlay Christie, Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali’i, Samipieni Finau, Patrick Tuipulotu, Scott Barrett (c), Tyrel Lomax, Codie Taylor, Ethan de Groot

Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Fletcher Newell, Tupou Vaa’i, Luke Jacobson, Cortez Ratima, Anton Lienert-Brown, Beauden Barrett

ENGLAND (15-1): George Furbank, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, Henry Slade, Ollie Lawrence, Tommy Freeman, Marcus Smith, Alex Mitchell, Ben Earl, Sam Underhill, Chandler Cunningham-South, George Martin, Maro Itoje, Will Stuart, Jamie George (c), Fin Baxter

Reserves: Theo Dan, Bevan Rodd, Dan Cole, Alex Coles, Tom Curry, Ben Spencer, Fin Smith, Ollie Sleightholme

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)


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