The Qantas Wallabies have announced an unchanged 23-man line-up for Saturday night’s second Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand in Auckland.
Head Coach Ewen McKenzie has remained consistent with his selections by giving those who participated in the 12-all draw in Sydney at the weekend an opportunity to topple the All Blacks at their spiritual home, Eden Park.
“We were impressed with the pressure we were able to apply in the opening Test and, despite some errors, were pleased with the intent of the group to continue attacking despite the poor weather conditions,” McKenzie said.
“I imagine both teams are excited by the prospect of a dry evening in Auckland on Saturday night, which will have an influence on the way the game is played.
“For us, we know we need to be more clinical in certain areas, but overall we feel the same group of guys deserve the opportunity to have another crack.
“Selection is never easy, although we’ve made a lot of tough decisions in this space over the past 12 months with the ultimate goal of winning games. You’re always looking to improve and I’m confident the sum of those hard choices has put us in a better position today.
“While we didn’t quite get there on Saturday night, I do know that we’ve made good progress since our first Test against New Zealand a year ago.
“That gives us some confidence heading into what will be an extremely tough challenge in Auckland on Saturday night.”
After a draw ended New Zealand’s 17-game win streak at the weekend, the Qantas Wallabies will now turn their attention to one of Rugby’s great challenges, playing the All Blacks at Eden Park.
Australia has not won at the venue since 1986, while the All Blacks have won 32 straight games at Eden Park against all opposition dating back to 1994.
However, McKenzie said his players wouldn’t be daunted by the Eden Park history.
“Recent results would suggest Eden Park hasn’t been a happy place for Australia and already this week we’ve seen that not many people are giving us a chance in Auckland,” he said.
“Sporting records are there to be broken and we’ll look forward to the opportunity of playing the All Blacks in their own backyard on Saturday night.”
The Qantas Wallabies side to play New Zealand in the second 2014 Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship clash at Eden Park on Saturday 23 August is:
1. James Slipper (vc – Queensland Reds)
2. Nathan Charles (Western Force)
3. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
4. Sam Carter (ACT Brumbies)
5. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
6. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies)
7. Michael Hooper (c – NSW Waratahs)
8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
9. Nic White (ACT Brumbies)
10. Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs)
11. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)
12. Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (vc – NSW Waratahs)
14. Pat McCabe (ACT Brumbies)
15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)
16. James Hanson (Queensland Reds)
17. Pek Cowan (Western Force)
18. Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies)
19. Will Skelton (NSW Waratahs)
20. Scott Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels)
21. Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs)
22. Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs)
23. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies)
24th man – Ben McCalman (Western Force)