After the birth of your second child, Ardie Savea has stayed in New Zealand while the rest of the team is already in Australia to start preparation for the third game for the Bledisloe Cup against the Wallabies next weekend.
Savea, who has started in the two previous games, will miss the next one and this situation gives him opens the doors to Hoskins Sotutu, who entered from the substitute bench both times and is emerging as the first option to partner with Cane and Frizell.
“He has done the job we have given him very well,” Foster said before the All Blacks left for Australia, adding “I guess now we have to analyze and ask ourselves: do we keep it or do we change some things?” The head coach has several options since he also has Dalton Papalii and Du’Plessis Kirifias well as with Akira Ioane and Cullen Grace.
Papalii is the most experienced of them all and his inclusion could take Captain Cane to No. 8, while Kirifi is the most recent addition to the team and will likely spend the next few weeks adjusting to the day-to-day alongside the All Blacks.
On the other hand, the coach said: “Akira has been training well. We are also impressed with Cullen (Grace) and the quiet work he is doing. So we have good options.”
Grace, 20, with just a handful of caps, has been regularly released by the All Blacks this season to earn more minutes with Canterbury and would be a surprise inclusion ahead of Sotutu or Ioane.
On the other hand, Nepo Laulala and Joe Moody could miss the game. While the former is about to be a father and is still in New Zealand, the latter is still reeling from the blow to the head he suffered against the Wallabies last weekend.
If the All Blacks get a win on Saturday, they will be able to retain the Bledisloe Cup. However, a win for the locals would keep the series alive for one more game.