Japan v New Zealand
Frank Halai, Dominic Bird set to debut
October 31, 2013
Counties Manukau's Frank Halai beats the tackle of Tenina Sauileoge, Auckland v Counties Manukau, ITM Cup, Eden Park, Auckland, September 4, 2013
Frank Halai was selected after a barnstorming season for Counties Manukau in the ITM Cup © Getty Images

Frank Halai and Dominic Bird will debut for New Zealand in the Test against Japan in Tokyo on Saturday, with Richie McCaw selected at No.8 and Tawera Kerr-Barlow to make his first starting appearance in his 12th Test.

Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and Luke Whitelock may also debut having been named on the replacements bench, while Charles Piutau will start on the wing with Beauden Barrett named at fullback.

Coach Steve Hansen said the management were looking forward to the opportunity to give the side's "less capped" players the chance to drive the All Blacks preparations.

"The three selectors have been very mindful of using this game to gather some information on our younger players, but also using it to provide [Richie] McCaw and Daniel Carter with some game time.

"We are expecting the Japanese to be very competitive, and it will be important that we respect them and engage them in the physical aspects of the game before attempting to play too much 'razzle-dazzle' type rugby. It's about earning the right to play. If we don't do this, we can get caught up in the type of game that suits them."

All Blacks: Beauden Barrett; Charles Piutau, Ben Smith, Francis Saili, Frank Halai; Daniel Carter, Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Richie McCaw (captain), Sam Cane, Steven Luatua; Dominic Bird, Jeremy Thrush; Ben Franks Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Andrew Hore, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Luke Whitelock, Aaron Smith, Tom Taylor, Ryan Crotty.

Follow live text commentary of the Test between Japan and New Zealand on Saturday, November 2 from 5.30pm (NZDT), 3.30pm (AEDT) and 4.30am (GMT)

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