Mark Tele’a returns as All Blacks make surprise lock switch for semi-final

Mark Tele’a has been brought back into the New Zealand starting side for their semi-final against Argentina

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Wing Mark Tele’a has been brought back into the New Zealand side to face Argentina in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals after missing the All Blacks’ last eight win over Ireland for disciplinary reasons.

Tele’a replaces Leicester Fainga’anuku having been left out last weekend after breaching team protocols.

The other change to Ian Foster’s side comes in the second row, where Sam Whitelock, the most capped All Black ever, is preferred to long time locking partner Brodie Retallick.

Retallick has to be content with a place on the bench, which also includes hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho, not involved last week.

“Rugby World Cup playoffs are a series of finals,” said head coach Foster. “We know that the intensity only increases as you progress through the knockout stages and we are preparing accordingly.


“We have received amazing support from our country and fans. The atmosphere at our games has been tremendous and we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been a part of that.

“The team is determined to give it everything in this special occasion against Argentina who are a quality team with a proven record in Rugby World Cup playoff games. We are very respectful of that.”

Whitelock, 35, could become the first player in men’s World Cup history to reach three finals, having been part of the triumphant New Zealand sides in 2011 and 2015.

The veteran partners club teammate Scott Barrett, who remains in the starting side alongside brothers Jordie and Beauden.

New Zealand team to face Argentina at the Stade de France (Friday 20 October, kick off 8pm BST)

1 Ethan de Groot, 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Tyrel Lomax; 4 Samuel Whitelock, 5 Scott Barrett; 6 Shannon Frizell, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 8 Ardie Savea; 9 Aaron Smith, 10 Richie Mo’unga; 11 Mark Tele’a, 12 Jordie Barrett, 13 Rieko Ioane, 14 Will Jordan; 15 Beauden Barrett

Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

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