Mo'unga brought in for NZ's French clash

·2-min read

Richie Mo'unga will start at fly-half for New Zealand in their Test against France in Paris after Beauden Barrett failed to recover in time from a knock to the head sustained last weekend.

Barrett was injured in the 29-20 defeat to Ireland last weekend, with Mo'unga one of seven changes to the starting side for Saturday's match at the Stade de France.

Coach Ian Foster, though, suggests that the rotation of players is not a reaction to the disappointment in Dublin.

Mo'unga will be partnered by scrum-half Aaron Smith, while Quinn Tupaea takes over the number 12 jersey from Anton Lienert-Brown and will form a midfield pairing with Rieko Ioane.

George Bridge and Will Jordan are on the wings, alongside fullback Jordie Barrett in a powerful back three.

Dane Coles has got the nod at hooker and will form a front row with props Nepo Laulala and Joe Moody, while captain Sam Whitelock is in the second row with Brodie Retallick.

Akira Ioane starts at six and Sam Cane at seven, with Ardie Savea at the back of the scrum.

"We're really excited about this match, it's a big statement game for us and we know we have to respond from the Irish performance," Foster said.

"We've had to manage the physical and mental load for the players, so have changed things up a bit for this final Test to maximise the energy within the whole group.

"That's not a reflection on the guys that haven't been selected, it's more a chance to bring some fresh players in, and that's going to be vital for us."

The match is a dress-rehearsal for the opening game of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in Paris, where France have not beaten the All Blacks since 1973.

"They (France) are a young, formidable team building in confidence and they've been targeting this match so it's a huge way for us to finish our tour," Foster said.

New Zealand team: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Akira Ioane, Samuel Whitelock (captain), Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.

Reserves: Samisoni Taukei'aho, George Bower, Ofa Tuungafasi, Tupou Vaa'i, Shannon Frizell, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, David Havili.

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