New Zealand really arrived at the Rugby World Cup party with last Friday’s 96-17 win over Italy and they conclude their Pool A campaign against Uruguay on Thursday.

The All Blacks have made changes for the game in Lyon against a Los Teros side who come into the match on the back of beating Namibia 36-26.

Their penchant for throwing the ball around has earned them plaudits, while Esteban Meneses’ side have also been praised for their technical excellence up front, with flanker Manuel Ardao hitting a competition-high 32 defensive rucks and winning the most steals (six).

Thursday’s match marks the first official Test between the two nations and, while Uruguay have excelled in France, the way New Zealand blew past the Azzurri hints that, even with multiple changes, they could go big again.

New Zealand vs Uruguay Tips

  • New Zealand -68.5 @ 21/20
  • Sam Cane – Anytime Tryscorer @ 7/4

Team news

All Blacks coach Ian Foster has made nine changes to the side that started against Italy. Captain Sam Cane will make his first start of the tournament after playing 20 minutes off the bench last week.

Lock Sam Whitelock comes into the side to earn his 150th Test cap and, just as significantly, surpasses former team-mate Richie McCaw and England 2003 World Cup winner Jason Leonard in making a record 23rd Rugby World Cup appearance.

A win for Whitelock would also see him overtake McCaw for the most Rugby World Cup wins, with the pair currently tied on 20 victories.

Uruguay have made seven changes, with Rodrigo Silva included at full-back, while Gaston Mieres replaces Bautista Basso on the right wing.

Tomas Inciarte returns to partner captain Andres Vilaseca in the centres and like Silva, flanker Lucas Bianchi also makes his first start of the tournament.

New Zealand -68.5 @ 21/20

After being second-best in their 27-13 opening night defeat to France, New Zealand have moved through the gears, beating Namibia 71-3 and then blitzing an Azzurri side who were expected to test them.

They ran in a combined 25 tries in those two matches and looked fluent in both. Namibia were poor, but Italy seemed to give up and there should be more spirit from Uruguay.

However, can they both keep the All Blacks out and score tries of their own? Like all of the tier-two nations, they will see this match as a chance to make an impact and only lost 27-12 to France.

They did, though, concede 38 points to Italy and 26 to Namibia and things might get away from them against a Kiwi team playing like it has a point to prove.

Sam Cane – Anytime Tryscorer @ 7/4

Despite his status within the game and holding his country’s captaincy, Cane looks to be in direct competition with Dalton Papalii for a place in Foster’s back-row and grabbing a try will only help his cause.

The skipper looked off the pace when he came off the bench against Italy, but will have improved for that run-out and now needs to kick on by impacting the game on both sides of the ball.

Papalii scored tries against Namibia and Italy and has shown his talent for being on the shoulder of the ball carrier.

Cane will need to be just as good in attack and, like all good opensides, should be on hand for any offloads as he looks to grab a try for himself.

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