The IRB Junior World Championship continues on Tuesday with the second round of pool matches taking place across four venues in Swansea, Cardiff, Newport and Wrexham.
New Zealand co-coach Dave Rennie has handed his trio of Super 14 winners their chance to shine against Ireland in their second match at Cardiff Arms Park with wings Kade Poki and Sean Maitland, together with their fellow Crusader Nasi Manu all coming into the starting line up for the 21:10 kick off.
None of them featured in New Zealand’s opening 48-9 victory over Tonga, having only joined the squad a few days earlier direct from the Crusaders’ victory over the Waratahs in Wellington the previous weekend.
In fact only four players retain their starting positions from that tussle in forwards Josh Townsend and man of the match Peter Saili, along with centre Jackson Willison – although he moves out one to outside centre to accommodate new captain Ryan Crotty – and full back Zac Guildford as Rennie ensures every member of the squad will have had game time.
The earlier Pool A match at the Arms Park pits Argentina, the 17-9 conquerors of Ireland on day one, against a Tongan side who certainly caused problems for the fancied New Zealanders in the first half of their opening match, trailing only by a single point at half time.
South Africa will be looking to continue their barnstorming form when they take on Scotland at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham, having laid down a marker of their title credentials with an impressive 108-18 defeat of USA on day one.
Eric Sauls’ side ran in 16 tries against the young Eagles and he will be looking for more of the same from the likes of hat-trick hero Stefan Watermeyer against a Scottish side who must bounce back from an opening loss to Samoa if they are to stand a chance of finishing higher than ninth in this inaugural tournament.
Both sides have rung the changes for this match with only three of the players who started the 29-17 loss to Samoa making the run on XV against the Baby Boks as coach Colin Robertson returns the captaincy to Lewis Calder, the son of former Scottish star Jim and nephew of Finlay.
In the earlier kick off at 17:00, Samoa take on the USA buoyed by their first success against top tier European opposition, a victory wrapped up by Alatasi Tupou’s late interception try.
The Samoans, like many of the other teams, have made a number of changes, particularly in the forwards, although they keep faith with twins Alvin and Aaron Smith in the centre with Sanele Vavae Tuilagi – the latest from that famous Samoan family to wear the national jersey after his brothers Freddie, Henry, Anitelea and Alesana – starting on the wing with Tupou switching to full back.
Salty Thompson, by contrast, has not rung so many personnel changes, although a number of players do switch positions with Kevin Erskine moving to the back row and Nate Ebner coming in from full back to centre outside Thretton Palamo, the youngest ever player to play in the Rugby World Cup after his appearance against the Springboks last year.
Australia coach Brian Melrose has the luxury of resting Dane Haylett-Perry, the leading try scorer in the tournament after his quartet in the 81-12 defeat of Canada on day one, for their encounter with Fiji at Newport’s Rodney Parade.
His fellow try scorers James Hanson, Rob Horne, Ben McCalman and Ratu Nasiganiyavi also drop to the bench in a much-changed line up with their powerful flanker David Pocock poised to continue leading the Australians with his impressive work-rate against a Fijian side they beat 51-27 in a four-quarters trial match in Sydney two weeks ago.
Fiji finished strongly against England, outscoring their conquerors by three tries to none in the second half and will hope to start better against the Australians. Coach Rayne Simpson has run the changes like his Australian counterpart with captain Jese Cirikisuva switching to the other side of back row for the test.
England, who like Australia picked up a bonus point for scoring four tries in their 41-17 opening win against the Fijians, have also overhauled their starting line-up to face Canada in the 17:00 kick off with only five players retaining their positions, including captain Hugo Ellis.
Canada have also made changes with their two try scorers in the loss to Australia, scrum half Sean White and centre Matt Evans both dropping to the bench with Jamie Mackenzie and Taylor Dalziel given their chance in the starting line up.
Host nation Wales have made 10 changes to their starting line up to face Japan with captain Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Scott Andrews, Jevon Groves and Dan Biggar – man of the match in the hard fought 29-10 defeat of Italy on day one – the only players retained.
“We had a number of missed try scoring opportunities against Italy so we have been working on our execution and accuracy ahead of the Japan game,” admitted coach Patrick Horgan. “However Italy’s defence was excellent and certainly kept them in the game.
“You are always looking for improvement, but we are quite pleased overall with our first performance. Japan gave a good account of themselves against France and we will certainly give the side the respect they deserve.”
The plucky Japanese certainly gave France food for thought before losing 53-17, all three of their tries scored by hooker Ryuhei Arita who shows his flexibility by switching to flanker for the match against Wales, a position he used to play before moving into the front row.
France have also rung the changes to face a side they beat 24-16 in the Under 20 Six Nations earlier this year, with only flanker Louis Madaule, wing Benjamin Fall, centre David Yann and Guillame Namy retaining their placing in the starting line up, although the latter moves from wing to full back.
Thierry Lacrampe will captain the side in place of Morgan Parra at scrum half, who takes his place on a formidable looking bench alongside the likes of Mathieu Belie, Mathieu Bastareaud, Yoann Maestri and Raphael Lakafia, who scored a hat-trick against Japan.
Italy have bucked the trend of many of their counterparts by opting for a virtually unchanged line-up, the only change being a forced one with hooker Tommaso D’Apice handed a two-match ban after being cited for an incident in the Wales match and Gabriele Morelli taking his place.
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