Hoskins Sotutu earns first All Blacks start as minor tweaks made for Tri-Nations opener against Wallabies

The All Blacks have made minimal changes to their starting squad for this weekend's Tri-Nations curtain-raiser against the Wallabies in Sydney.

Head coach Ian Foster made three adjustments to the starting line-up that claimed a 27-7 Bledisloe win over Australia in Auckland two weeks ago.

In the forwards, Foster was forced to tweak his loose forwards combination with star No.8 Ardie Savea missing Saturday's Test in Sydney as he is on paternity leave.

Savea's absence has led to Blues powerhouse Hoskins Sotutu getting the call-up, slotting in at the back of the scrum with captain Sam Cane and Shannon Frizell remaining on the flanks.

"He's had plenty of minutes already in the Bledisloe Cup series and he's ready to go.  He's excited.  It's a chance to start his first Test so it's pretty special for him," Foster said of Sotutu.

Hoskins Sotutu. Source: Photosport

The other changes to the starting side sees veteran lock Sam Whitelock return to the line-up in place of rookie Tupou Vaa'i after missing the Auckland clash with concussion and Karl Tu'inukuafe starting at loosehead prop for Joe Moody, who also suffered a head knock. 

On the bench, there's plenty more action though with three new faces featuring.

Tyrel Lomax has been called in to replace Nepo Laulala as a reserve prop with Laulala also on maternity leave while Dalton Papalii fills the void left by Sotutu's promotion to the starting line-up.

The big change on the bench though is the return of Ngani Laumape, who has recovered from a broken arm suffered in this year's Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.

Laumape takes the No.22 jersey as the midfield cover, pushing Rieko Ioane to jersey No.23 to cover the outside backs at the expense of Damian McKenzie who falls out of the matchday squad all together.

"It's the third Test of a four Test series and the Bledisloe Cup is on the line," Foster said. 

"It's a real chance for us to come into their home patch, a place which they take a lot of pride in playing and for a trophy which means a lot to them, and we need to show them how much it means to us. 

"The chance to go and win a trophy that's precious to us is exciting."

Saturday's match kicks off at 9:45pm NZT.

All Blacks: 15. Beauden Barrett, 14. Jordie Barrett, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 12. Jack Goodhue, 11. Caleb Clarke, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 7. Sam Cane (c), 6. Shannon Frizell, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu, 3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2. Dane Coles, 1. Karl Tu'uinukuafe

Reserves: 16. Codie Taylor, 17. Alex Hodgman, 18. Tyrel Lomax, 19. Scott Barrett, 20. Dalton Papalii, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Ngani Laumape, 23. Rieko Ioane