Chiefs bolter Quinn Tupaea has been named to start in his first Test as All Blacks coach Ian Foster unveiled an experimental team to play an understrength Tonga at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday (5.05pm AEST).
Tupaea was not even a regular starter in Super Rugby this season but has been fast-tracked to national honours following injuries to Anton Lienert-Brown and Jack Goodhue and the departure to France of Ngani Laumape.
The 22-year-old will start at inside centre, outside Richie Mo'unga who beat out Beauden Barrett to get first crack at wearing the coveted No.10 jersey.
There will also be three debuts off the bench with prop George Bower, loose forward Ethan Blackadder and halfback Finlay Christie named for a match New Zealand is expected to win comfortably.
"It's fantastic that Quinn, George, Ethan and Finlay have an opportunity and we're excited for them, especially playing in front of a home crowd," Foster said.
Sam Whitelock will captain the side in the absence of the injured Sam Cane while Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii and Akira Ioane form a fresh faced loose forward trio.
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"Dalton gets a reward for a great campaign this year," Foster said.
"In Akira's case, he started at six last year and it's a chance for him to put a marker down. Luke played very well for the Chiefs and he is back in great form."
Scott Barrett will start at lock with his brothers, Beauden and Jordie, named on the bench.
Jordie – the Hurricanes fullback – would provide midfield cover.
"He is excited by that," Foster said.
"We know where he will play long term but he's a great utility player to have. Our whole group is excited. After Covid disrupted our season last year we felt a little bit distanced from our fans playing most of our games overseas, so what's in front of us this weekend is very exciting."
ALL BLACKS (15-1): Damian McKenzie, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Brad Weber, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Akira Ioane, Sam Whitelock (c), Scott Barrett, Angus Ta'avao, Dane Coles, Karl Tu'inukuafe
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, George Bower, Tyrel Lomax, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ethan Blackadder, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett
TONGA (15-1): James Faiva, Hosea Saumaki, Fine Inisi, Nikolai Foliaki, Penikolo Latu, Kalione Hala, Sonatane Takulua (c), Sione Tu'ipolotu, Solomone Funaki, Mateaki Kafatolu, Zane Kapeli, Don Lolo, Sila Puafisi, Sam Moli, Duke Nginingini
Reserves: Siua Maile, Jethro Felemi, Tau Koloamatangi, Harrison Mataele, Viliami Taulani, Nasi Manu, Leon Fukofuka, Walter Fifita