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Wary Robertson makes 1 change to New Zealand squad for rugby 2nd match against England

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson has made just one change to his starting lineup for Saturday’s second match against England in Auckland because of injury.

New Zealand opened the two-Test series with a 16-15 win in Dunedin last weekend.

TJ Perenara injured his leg in the first test and Finlay Christie will replace him as first scrumhalf. Uncapped Cortez Ratima has been named to make his test debut from the bench.

“Finlay has worked hard and earned his place in the starting 11 and it will be a proud day for Cortez and his whanau (family),” Robertson said. “He is a talented young man who is ready for the test of rugby.”

Robertson was opposed to other changes, including Caleb Clarke on the left wing and Ethan Blackadder on the blindside wing. There was also speculation of a change in midfield and Beauden Barrett starting at full-back.

Robertson instead gave the players who played in the first Test a chance to improve on their performances in the second Test at Eden Park, where New Zealand are unbeaten in 48 tests for 30 years.

Stephen Perofeta remains at fullback with Beauden Barrett on the bench. Perofeta played a role in one of the All Blacks’ two tries in Dunedin. Robertson also kept Samipeni Finau in the back row after he recovered from a head injury.

Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett remain Robertson’s preferred midfield combination but they have been kept quiet by England’s attacking defence. Robertson may have envisaged the powerful Clarke as a point of difference on the left wing but retained Mark Telea, who was closely marked in the first test.

“We can feel the support from New Zealand here in Auckland and we will hear it at a fully-packed Eden Park,” Robertson said. “This is a very special place for the All Blacks and we go there on Saturday to win the series against England.”

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New Zealand: Stephen Perofeta, Sevu Reece, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Mark Telea, Damian McKenzie, Finlay Christie; Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali’i, Samipeni Finau, Patrick Tuipulotu, Scott Barrett (captain), Tyrel Lomax, Codie Taylor, Ethan de Groot. Subs: Asafo Aumua, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Fletcher Newell, Tupou Vaa’i, Luke Jacobson, Cortez Ratima, Anton Lienert-Brown, Beauden Barrett.

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AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby