TEAM NEWS: All Blacks ring changes for Perth Bledisloe

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

The All Blacks have made six changes to their run-on side to face the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday night.

While the Richie Mo'unga-Beauden Barrett combination has remained, there are a host of changes through their starting XV for the opening Bledisloe.

Experienced hooker Dane Coles returns to the no. 2 jersey for the clash, pushing Codie Taylor to the bench, while Scott Barrett replaces the injured Brodie Retallick in the second row.

In-form flanker Ardie Savea has forced his way back into the starting team and while there was speculation his return might push Kieran Read to no. 6, it is the Hurricanes livewire who will play blindside, with Sam Cane named to play openside and Read at no. 8.

In the backs, Aaron Smith will start at halfback ahead of TJ Perenara while Anton Lienert-Brown will team up with Jack Goodhue in the centres, taking Sonny Bill Williams' spot there.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said there was an extra level of intensity in the side this week ahead of the opening Bledisloe.

“Our preparation this week here in Perth has been very good. We can tell that it’s ‘Bledisloe One’ week as there’s a real sense of purpose in everything we do, and a real desire to do it well," he said.

“With the extra time together, we’re starting to see an improved clarity of roles out on the training park.  We’ll need to take the confidence that comes with that clarity into the Test on Saturday and deliver a game which has high energy, high skill and great decision-making.

“The Bledisloe Cup has always been incredibly important to this team and teams before us.  It’s those teams, ourselves, our country and our many fans that inspire and drive us to want to go out and ‘re-take’ the trophy.  We’ve never felt that it’s about going out and ‘retaining’ the Cup because it’s always been about earning the right to have it.  This Saturday is no different.  Both teams will be desperate and hungry for success.”

Commenting on Australia, Hansen added: “Australia have started this Investec Rugby Championship well.  Their set piece has been very good and if we are to beat them, we’ll need to take them on at set piece time and try and take away the quality of their possession.”

The Wallabies have also named their team for the clash, with James O'Connor and Tolu Latu starting for Australia.

The Wallabies take on New Zealand at Optus Stadium, Perth, on Saturday August 10, kicking off at 5;45pm local, 7;45pm AEST, with the Wallaroos-Black Ferns kicking off at 3pm local, 5pm AEST. The Wallabies are LIVE on Network Ten, FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports and RUGBY.com.au RADIO while the Wallaroos will be shown on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.

TEAM

New Zealand to face the Wallabies

1. Joe Moody (38)

2. Dane Coles (62)

3. Owen Franks (107)

4. Scott Barrett (29)

5. Samuel Whitelock (109)

6. Ardie Savea (36)

7. Sam Cane (61)

8. Kieran Read - captain (119)

9. Aaron Smith (84)

10. Richie Mo’unga (10)

11. Rieko Ioane (25)

12. Anton Lienert-Brown (35)

13. Jack Goodhue (8)

14. Ben Smith (78)

15. Beauden Barrett (75)

Reserves

16. Codie Taylor (42)

17. Atu Moli (1)

18. Angus Ta’avao (5)

19. Patrick Tuipulotu (22)

20. Matt Todd (18)

21. TJ Perenara (56)

22. Ngani Laumape (11)

23. George Bridge (2)