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Lienert-Brown buzzing after NZ rugby debut

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 12/08/2016

All Blacks debutant Anton Lienert-Brown says it was unreal to pull on the black jumper for the first time.

The 21-year-old played at centre in his side's 40-minute friendly win over Counties Manukau after his teammates had earlier crushed Northland 73-0.

Lienert-Brown, who broke into the Chiefs' starting XV in this season's Super Rugby, could barely believe he was standing alongside some of the world's best players.

He suppressed his nerves to put in a solid 40-minute performance as the All Blacks put a shaky start aside to outclass Counties 35-7.

"It was a dream come true," Lienert-Brown said after the match.

"At the start of the year, my goal was to get a regular starting spot for the Chiefs and, for this to come out of that, is just amazing."

Lienert-Brown was drafted into the All Blacks' Rugby Championship squad after Sonny Bill Williams' achilles tendon injury in Rio.

Head coach Steve Hansen said the friendly games were an ideal place for Lienert-Brown to make his All Blacks debut.

"There's not so much pressure when you're playing Counties and Northland versus playing Australia," Hansen said.

"It's a good opportunity to get a feel for it, and we'll just have to take our time with him."

Hansen said earlier in the week that Lienert-Brown was selected for his versatility, with the young gun able to play both second-five and centre.

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