Chiefs centre Seta Tamanivalu could be a surprise inclusion in New Zealand’s starting line-up for Saturday’s clash with Australia in Wellington.
With Ryan Crotty and George Moala ruled out of this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup Test due to injury, Tamanivalu has been recalled to the All Blacks squad.
Malakai Fekitoa, who has played in 16 Tests, is the most experienced midfielder in the world champions’ squad at the moment, while Tamanivalu has made two Tests appearances.
Of the other midfield options, Anton Lienert-Brown and Rieko Ioane are both uncapped. All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster hinted that it will come down to an educated guess about who would be the world champions’ starting centres in Wellington.
“Some players we like to hold back a little bit because we just want to make sure that when they get on that big stage they’re 100 per cent clear about what they have to do,” he told Fairfax Media.
“That’s our major consideration, but we’ve got a pretty good idea where we’re going.”
With so many inexperienced players in the selection mix, Foster said the All Blacks management will not make a rushed decision on who their starting centres will be.
“We’ve got a plan – clearly – about what we want to do,” he added.
“But we still want to make sure that we’re watching and considering that plan every day, based on the evidence that we have in front of us.
“They’re here because they’re good players. They’re here because we think they can take that next step up and then we monitor that on a daily basis, trying to think when’s the right time to put them in.”
The All Blacks’ coaching have been impressed with what thw competing players have produced so far.
“Seta’s obviously been with us before so he’s probably got a head start, in terms of his knowledge of what we do, and we saw a little bit of that today,” said Foster.
“But I thought Rieko learnt well and what we saw on the training park was pretty positive. Don’t forget Anton’s still there, just learning, too.”