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Billy Stickland/INPHO Finn Russell.
# Comeback
Scotland recall Finn Russell and Telea to make debut for the All Blacks
Scotland have yet to defeat New Zealand in more than a hundred years of trying.

FINN RUSSELL HAS been summoned straight back into Scotland’s starting line-up to play New Zealand at Murrayfield on Sunday just days after being recalled by coach Gregor Townsend.

Gifted fly-half Russell, who plays his club rugby for Paris-based Racing 92, was controversially left out from the original squad for the Autumn Nations Series and missed the first two Tests in what appeared to be the latest example of a strained relationship between player and coach.

Adam Hastings, Blair Kinghorn and Ross Thompson were chosen ahead of Russell, with Townsend citing “form and consistency” levels as the key criteria for his selection.

But Russell was called up ahead of the All Blacks clash after Hastings, the son of Scotland great Gavin Hastings, was ruled out through injury following Saturday’s 28-12 win over Fiji.

And the 30-year-old has now leapfrogged Kinghorn, with the Edinburgh back on the bench.

Russell walked out on the Scotland squad prior to the 2020 Six Nations after publicly criticising Townsend’s methods.

The stand-off was also dropped for last season’s Six Nations game against Ireland after it emerged he had breached team protocol by going out drinking in Edinburgh along with five other players.

But his inclusion for this weekend’s match means he joins forces with Ali Price as Scotland field the same half-back partnership they deployed in their last meeting against New Zealand five years ago — an agonising 22-17 loss at Murrayfield.

Sione Tuipulotu has been recalled alongside Chris Harris in midfield while Fraser Brown starts at hooker.

Scotland have yet to defeat New Zealand in more than a hundred years of trying, with the All Blacks having won 29 out of 31 fixtures between the two teams.

The closest the Scots have come to victory was in two contrasting draws at Murrayfield — 0-0 in 1964 and 25-25 in 1983.

Telea to make Test debut for changed All Blacks against Scotland

Blues flyer Mark Telea is set to make his New Zealand debut after being named in a rejigged All Blacks’ XV to face Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday that sees positional switches for the Barrett brothers.The 25-year-old Telea replaces Sevu Reece on the right wing in one of seven changes to the New Zealand side that thrashed Wales 55-23 in Cardiff last week.

David Havili’s inclusion at inside centre has led New Zealand coach Ian Foster to start Jordie Barrett, who wore the No 12 shirt against Wales, at full-back from where his older brother Beauden has been moved to fly-half.

Richie Mo’unga, New Zealand’s starting No 10 in Cardiff, has been dropped from the matchday 23 completely.

Telea was first called into the All Blacks squad four months ago as Covid cover before being included as injury cover for an Autumn Nations Series that New Zealand started with a 38-31 win over Japan in Tokyo last month.

Elswehere in the backs, Scotland-born and raised Finlay Christie starts at scrum-half in place of Aaron Smith, with Anton Lienert-Brown at outside centre instead of the benched Rieko Ioane.

Up front, Akira Ioane comes in at blindside flanker for Shannon Frizzell, Nepo Laulala takes over from tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax and Samisoni Taukei’aho replaces hooker Codie Taylor.

Foster has also made three changes to his bench from last week’s encounter in Cardiff, with loosehead prop George Bower, half-back TJ Perenara and utility Stephen Perofeta now among the replacements.

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“We’ve selected a team that excites us this week,” said Foster as he announced his side in Edinburgh on Friday.

“In many ways this Test is crucial for our tour as a whole and it’s a chance to show how we’re building as a group.”

New Zealand have dominated this fixture, winning 29 of 31 Tests going back 117 years, with the closest Scotland have come to victory two contrasting draws at Murrayfield — 0-0 in 1964 and 25-25 in 1983.

The Scots, however, did run the All Blacks close when the teams last met before losing 22-17 at Murrayfield five years ago.

Scotland, who laboured to a 28-12 win at home to Fiji last week, are due to name their side later Friday.

Scotland 

  • 15. Stuart Hogg
  • 14. Darcy Graham
  • 13. Chris Harris (vice-captain)
  • 12. Sione Tuipulotu
  • 11. Duhan van der Merwe
  • 10. Finn Russell
  • 9. Ali Price
  • 1. Pierre Schoeman
  • 2. Fraser Brown
  • 3. Zander Fagerson
  • 4. Richie Gary
  • 5. Grant Gilchrist (vice-captain)
  • 6. Jamie Ritchie (captain)
  • 7. Hamish Watson
  • 8. Matt Fagerson

Replacements:

  • 16. Ewan Ashman
  • 17. Rory Sutherland
  • 18. WP Nel
  • 19. Jonny Gray
  • 20. Jack Dempsey
  • 21. Ben White
  • 22. Blair Kinghorn
  • 23. Mark Bennett 

New Zealand 

  • 15. Jordie Barrett
  • 14. Mark Telea
  • 13. Anton Lienert-Brown
  • 12. David Havili
  • 11. Caleb Clarke
  • 10. Beauden Barrett
  • 9. Finlay Christie
  • 1. Ethan De Groot
  • 2. Samisoni Taukei’aho
  • 3. Nepo Laulala 
  • 4. Sam Whitelock (captain)
  • 5. Scott Barrett
  • 6. Akira Ioane
  • 7. Dalton Papali’i
  • 8. Ardie Savea

Replacements:

  • 16. Codie Taylor
  • 17. George Bower
  • 18. Fletcher Newell
  • 19. Tupou Vaa’i
  • 20. Shannon Frizell
  • 21. TJ Perenara
  • 22. Stephen Perofeta
  • 23. Rieko Ioane

– © AFP 2022

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