Baxter to make first England start in Auckland

Fin Baxter passes a ball during an England training session

Harlequins prop Fin Baxter will make his first England start against New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday.

The 22-year-old replaces the injured Joe Marler in the only change to England's starting XV which lost the first Test 16-15.

Baxter made his international debut as a first-half replacement for his Quins team-mate in Dunedin, with Marler subsequently ruled out for the second and final Test in Auckland because of a foot injury.

Sale's Bevan Rodd is added to the bench in the only other change to the matchday squad, as England bid to become the first side to beat the All Blacks at the 50,000-capacity Eden Park since 1994.

"I want them to play big this weekend," England head coach Steve Borthwick told BBC Sport.

"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."

Also among the replacements is Dan Cole, who will move up to second in the list of England's most-capped male players if he comes off the bench to win his 115th cap.

The Leicester prop is currently level with 2003 World Cup-winner Jason Leonard, with scrum-half Ben Youngs leading the way on 127 caps.

"Dan has shown nothing but dedication and determination throughout his career, and reaching this milestone is a remarkable feat," added Borthwick.

"He is a superb rugby player, a wonderful role model, and we all look forward to sharing a memorable day with him on Saturday."

New Zealand have also made one enforced change to their starting XV, with Finlay Christie replacing the injured TJ Perenara at scrum-half, while uncapped Cortez Ratima is on the bench.

"We can feel New Zealand's support here in Auckland and we will hear it at a sold-out Eden Park," said head coach Scott Robertson.

"It's a very special venue to the All Blacks, and we're going there on Saturday to win the series against England."


New Zealand: Perofeta; Reece, Ioane, J Barrett, Tele'a; McKenzie, Christie; De Groot, Taylor, Lomax, S Barrett (capt), Tuipulotu, Finau, Papali'i, Savea.

Replacements: Aumua, Tu'ungafasi, Newell, Vaa'i, Jacobson, Ratima, Lienert-Brown, B Barrett.

England: Furbank; Feyi-Waboso, Slade, Lawrence, Freeman; M Smith, Mitchell; Baxter, George (capt), Stuart, Itoje, Martin, Cunningham-South, Underhill, Earl.

Replacements: Dan, Rodd, Cole, Coles, Curry, Spencer, F Smith, Sleightholme.