NZ to start campaign for 3rd straight World Cup

2019-09-21 at 07:51

Beauden Barrett will start at full-back as New Zealand begin their attempt to win a third straight World Cup against South Africa today.

Coach Steven Hansen has opted for Crusaders’ Richie Mo’unga at fly-half, with inexperienced wings George Bridge and Sevu Reece also in the XV.

Only five of Barrett’s previous 48 All Black starts have come at 15.

Siya Kolisi leads a South Africa team with a back three of Cheslin Kolbe, Makazole Mapimpi and Willie le Roux.

Gloucester’s Franco Mostert forms the second row with Eben Etzebeth.

New Zealand and South Africa, favourites and second-favourites to win the tournament respectively, have met three times over the past 12 months, each securing narrow victories before July’s 16-16 draw in Wellington.

Meanwhile, Coach Michael Cheika has reunited David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the Australia back row as his side begin their World Cup against Fiji.

Pocock and Hooper, who are both specialists around the breakdown, last started together for Australia in a win over Italy in November.

Pocock’s selection means flanker Lukhan Salakaia-Loto drops to the bench.

Fiji have named lock Leone Nakarawa, number eight Viliame Mata and wing Josua Tuisova in a powerful line-up.

France have opted for Toulouse duo Romain Ntamack and Antoine Dupont as their half-back partnership to take on Argentina in Pool C’s World Cup opener.

Ntamack, the 20-year-old son of former France international Emile, starts at 10, with Dupont, 22, picked ahead of Maxime Machenaud at scrum-half.

La Rochelle’s Gregory Alldritt is preferred to Louis Picamoles at eight. Nicolas Sanchez, who plays for Stade Francais, is at fly-half for Argentina, with Saracens’ Juan Figallo at prop.

The third player in the Pumas’ 31-man squad to play their club rugby outside Argentina – Castres’ Benjamin Urdapilleta – is on the bench.