Ngani Laumape will make his debut against the Lions in front of his home crowd at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has rewarded Laumape after his standout performance for the Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
It's try's like the one he scored recently, and consistently breaking the advantage line that has seen the Hurricanes midfielder on Hansen's list.
Hansen says, “He didn't have too many options after watching him play, did he? He just continued the form he had in Super Rugby into what was a level above that.”
Many of the senior players like Brodie Retallick are excited to see him being unleashed against the same side he wreaked havoc on two nights earlier.
It's great for him to get this opportunity, and I think he's performed extremely well in the midfield with the Hurricanes this year. So it's exciting for him, and see what he can do on the international stage,” says Retallick.
Anton Lienert-Brown is one of the men that has been mentoring newbie Laumape at training. The centre avoids making contact with the destructive centre.
Lienert-Brown says, “You sort of try steer away from him a bit. Maybe Sonny and Ngani, they run at each other. They're a pretty good matchup.”
“He's well-built and he's pretty stocky. I haven't had to try and tackle him at training, but we've got a pretty full on training this afternoon, so who knows,” says Lienert-Brown.
Steve Hansen has also picked a side that can read the opposition. Today he was very coy about the All Blacks' plan to win the second test.
Whatever team they pick is a small part of that. So how they use that team to defend, and what type of defence they use will depend on what we do.
Laumape aside, the Lions still need to shut down an All Blacks team who are still finding their feet and will get better as the test series gets on.