Tri Nations: Stage set for Bledisloe Cup round one
New Zealand will be looking to continue their impressive form from both of their outings against South Africa while the Wallabies have been equally as clinical in their match against the same opponent.
Australia, fresh from their victory over the Springboks, bring in Berrick Barnes to replace the suspended Quade Cooper.
“We’ve prepared on the basis that Quade won’t be available to us so we won’t contemplate anything other than that until such time as it became a reality and we’d deal with it if it did,” said Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
The change means that the experienced Matt Giteau moves out of the midfield and back into the fly-half position, while Barnes will take Giteau’s place at inside centre.
The only other change comes in the front row, with experienced hooker Stephen Moore replacing Saia Faingaa, who has been demoted to the bench alongside his brother Anthony.
The pair will become the 40th set of brothers to represent the Wallabies in test rugby should Saia come on and Anthony make his debut.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry has made only two changes. Joe Rokocoko’s appearance will see him become New Zealand’s most-capped winger, eclipsing All Black legends John Kirwan and Jonah Lomu (63 each).
The other change sees Jimmy Cowan coming into the scrum-half position at the expense of the impressive Piri Weepu, who was the All Blacks’ stand-out player in their last match against the Springboks.
Weepu, who became a father for the first time on Sunday, is unlucky to be dropped after his last performance but such is the wealth of talent New Zealand have in that position that Henry can opt to give Cowan a run.
While the All Blacks look to be in ominous form, the Wallabies are playing best the good Rugby and are a far cry from the team that were beaten by England last month. If they are to end their seven-game losing streak against their oldest rivals, now is the time.
“We will need all our experience up against what is a very good Wallabies side,” said All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
“We have had a good start to the Tri-Nations with the two wins over South Africa but there is no room for complacency - we are playing our oldest rivals for one of our most prized trophies, the Bledisloe Cup, and both sides will come out firing.”
New Zealand: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Joe Rokocoko, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Tom Donnelly, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read,
Replacements: Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Sam Whitelock, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg.
Australia: Adam Ashley Cooper, James O’Connor, Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Will Genia, Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Salesi Maafu, Dean Mumm, Nathan Sharpe, Rocky Elsom (capt), David Pocock.
Replacements: Saia Faingaa, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Matt Hodgson, Luke Burgess, Anthony Faingaa, Kurtley Beale.