New Zealand Rugby
Victor Vito to lead Wellington against All Blacks
August 8, 2013
All Blacks replacement Victor Vito runs into traffic, Australia v New Zealand, Tri-Nations, Lang Park, Brisbane, Australia, August 27, 2011
Victor Vito has something to prove to Steve Hansen © Getty Images

Victor Vito gets a chance to prove himself to New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen when Wellington face the All Blacks in a half-game on Friday, having been named to captain a side mixing club players with others boasting Super Rugby experience.

Canterbury coach Scott Robertson, meanwhile, included 13 players from his ITM Cup squad in a 25-strong group to play the All Blacks in a second half-game, the two "fixtures" New Zealand's only match simulation before the Rugby Championship kicks off. The remaining dozen players come from rugby clubs around the province who have been involved in the wider training group. The five new caps named in the 2013 Canterbury squad - Mitchell Graham, Mitchell Drummond, Milford Keresoma, Belgium Tuatagaloa and Matt Symons - will all get a run-on in at least one of Friday's games.

"This is a great opportunity for these new players in particular to get some valuable game time against formidable opponents," Robertson said. "Opponents don't come any better than the All Blacks, and it is a strong Wellington side that we will face as well. There is no doubt that it will be a great challenge for our guys."

Wellington's Vito, who has played 22 Tests, was dropped from the All Blacks squad for The Rugby Championship named on Sunday, with Hansen calling on him to improve his physicality. He is joined in the Wellington side by Hurricanes players Alapati Leiua, Tim Bateman, Brad Shields and Mark Reddish as well as Highlanders backs Shaun Treeby and Lima Sopoaga.

Wellington play Canterbury for 40 minutes early in the afternoon before the All Blacks take on Canterbury encounter. Wellington play the All Blacks in the finale in Lower Hutt.

New Zealand and Australia kick off The Rugby Championship with the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney on August 17.

Wellington team to play All Blacks: Sinoti Sinoti; Alapati Leiua, Tim Bateman, Shaun Treeby, Afa Fa'atau; Lima Sopoaga, Frae Wilson; Victor Vito (capt), Adam Hill, Brad Shields; Kaipati Gaualofa, Mark Reddish; Taniela Koroi, Eugene Smith, Tolu Fahamokioa. Replacements: Matt Treeby, Donald Brighouse, Jared Kahu, Vaea Fafita, with others to be added.

Canterbury squad: Colin Slade, Michael Green, Belgium Tuatagaloa, James Schrader, Milford Keresoma, Richie Mo'unga, Mitchell Drummond, Luke Whitelock, Jed Brown, Jimmy Lentjes, Luke Katene. Joel Everson, Siate Tokolahe, Seb Sitaga, Mitchell Graham. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Nepo Laulala, Matt Symons, Aaron McCoy, Willie Heinz, Rob Thompson, Marty Swart, Sione Faletau, Jamie Verran, Yoshikazu Fujita.

© AAP with Sportal

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