Finlay Christie: Meet the Borders-born scrum-half who will play for New Zealand against Scotland on Sunday

All Blacks coach Ian Foster joked that he “appreciated the donation” after naming Scottish-born scrum-half Finlay Christie in his team for Sunday’s autumn Test at Murrayfield.

New Zealand's Scottish-born scrum-half Finlay Christie in action against Japan.  (Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)
New Zealand's Scottish-born scrum-half Finlay Christie in action against Japan. (Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Christie, who plays in Super Rugby for the Auckland-based Blues, was approached by Scotland but opted for New Zealand, the country in which he grew up. With his distinctive mop of ginger hair he could hardly look more Scottish but Christie is fully committed to the All Blacks now and his family are “stoked” that he is getting the chance to play at Murrayfield.

Scotland have a long history of capping New Zealand-born players dating back to 1990 Grand Slam winner Sean Lineen. He was followed by the likes of the Leslie brothers, Glenn Metcalfe, Brendan Laney and Sean Maitland and the irony of a role reversal wasn’t lost on Foster as he named his team in Edinburgh.

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“We got one and you guys got about 50!” he smiled when asked about Christie. “But we quite like our one so we appreciate the donation. He’s a quality man. He is proud of his background up here, but he is also very proud to be a New Zealander. He made the move with his family. He has played his way into the squad with some really good performances. The fact he named him to start is a sign of our confidence.”

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Born in the Borders General Hospital near Melrose in 1995, Christie grew up in Peebles before moving to Aberdeen. The family then emigrated to New Zealand when he was seven and Sunday’s match represents something of a homecoming. “It will be pretty cool,” said Christie. “It has been on my bucket list for a wee while to play at Murrayfield. I’d say it will be a bit more special for the parents but I’m looking forward to it. They’re real stoked.”

His mum, Liz, hails from just outside Hawick while dad Chris is from Inverness. Christie’s older brother Gregor plays in Scotland, also as a scrum-half, for Currie Chieftains, and they all intend to be at the game. Asked what team his parents would be supporting, Christie said: “I don’t know! I think they’ll be happy either way. It’s win-win for them.”

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The Borders has been a rich source of scrum-halves for Scotland but Christie is one who slipped through the net, even though an approach was made by the SRU. “[It was] a wee one,” he said. “But back then it was sort of through Covid and things didn’t really work out, so I guess I’m happy where I stayed and it’s worked out quite well so far.”

That is something of an understatement. Christie has been capped 13 times by the All Blacks and will have his Blues team-mate Beauden Barrett outside him on Sunday. Barrett was at full-back in the 55-23 dismantling of Wales last weekend but moves to stand-off in place of Richie Mo'unga. Barrett’s younger brother Jordie is picked at 15.

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All Blacks head coach Ian Foster describes Finlay Christie as a "quality man". (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Winger Mark Telea will make his New Zealand debut and David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown start in the centre after both were used as replacements in the last two Tests. There are three changes in the pack, with Samisoni Taukei’aho coming in at hooker, Nepo Laulala at tighthead prop and Akira Ioane at blindside flanker.

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