Rugby Union

Malakai Fekitoa to replace Conrad Smith against Australia

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Although the All Blacks have lost Conrad Smith, new kid on the block Malakai Fekitoa, the heir apparent to the throne of the 77 times caped centre, steps in to fill the vacant position. 

Smith has had to return home to the due to the birth of his first child with an early morning call from Mrs Smith leaving both her husband and All Black's coach Steve Hansen frenziedly organising a flight back to New Zealand. 

The All Blacks have not ruled out a return for Smith, however it does look highly unlikely that he will be back for this weekend's game against Australia.

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A worthy replacement

The loss of Smith shouldn't be a big problem though as Fekitoa, who will play his third Test, is a fine replacement.

Fekitoa has had an outstanding season for his provincial side the Highlanders whilst also contributing some scintillating and powerful performances in the All Blacks' 3-0 whitewash of England in the summer. 

A new centre partnership consisting Fekitoa and Ma'a Nonu will certainly add some punch to an already intimidating All Black line up. With a combined weight of 208kg it certainly is a daunting prospect for Wallabies outside backs. 

Although only playing in his third Test, Fekitoa's centre partner has 91 under his belt. With Nonu also being the most experienced player in the world champions' squad, the new kid won't need to look far for a cool head if things aren't quite going to plan. 

The loss of Smith may have potentially hurt the All Blacks in the past and his defensive capabilities may be missed. There is however no doubt that in Fekitoa the All Blacks have another gem to take the place of their ageing icon. 

The rest of the squad remains unchanged apart from the inclusion of Ryan Crotty who takes Fekitoa's place on the bench. 

Starting XV

1. Wyatt Crockett (27)

2. Dane Coles (18)

3. Owen Franks (57)

4. Brodie Retallick (27)

5. Samuel Whitelock (54)

6. Jerome Kaino (51)

7. Richie McCaw (c) (127)

8. Kieran Read (62)

9. Aaron Smith (29)

10. Aaron Cruden (32)

11. Julian Savea (22)

12. Ma'a Nonu (91)

13. Malakai Fekitoa (2) 

14. Cory Jane (48)

15. Ben Smith (29)


16. Keven Mealamu (113)

17. Ben Franks (31)

18. Joe Moody (0)

19. Steven Luatua (11)

20. Same Cane (14)

21. TJ Perenara (3)

22. Beauden Barrett (19) 

23. Ryan Crotty (6)

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