New Zealand v Australia – 25 August 2018

Talented young utility back Jordie Barret is back in the starting fifteen in an injury enforced backline reshuffle as New Zealand braces for a backlash from the Australians in Auckland. Ngani Laumape will feature in the number 12 jersey as he replaces regular inside centre Ryan Crotty after he was concussed in last weekend’s test against the Wallabies. With Rieko Ioane also out injured, Waisako Naholo will move over to the left wing to make place for Ben Smith on the right wing.

The forwards remain the same, with Owen Franks in his milestone 100th test match. Out of these 100 matches, he has started 90 of them since his debut in 2009. On the bench Ofa Tuungafasi replaces Tim Perry.

Wallaby coach Michael Cheika has ringed the changes. With star fullback Israel Folau out injured, regular right wing Dane Haylett-Petty will accommodate the number 15 jersey. Haylett-Petty’s place will be taken by last week’s debutant Jack Maddocks, who also scored Australia’s only try in their 13-38 loss in Sydney. Brumbies back Tom Banks could make his first international appearance off the bench.

Cheika said after the loss that the forwards need to make a big step-up if they want to stand any chance in beating the men in black. And this is exactly where he made the changes.

Props Sekope Kepu and Tom Robertson were dropped to the bench to make place for Allan Alaalatoa and Scott Sio. Tatafu Polota-Nau remains the first choice hooker with a potential debut for reserve hooker Folau Fiangaa.

If the Wallabies want to stand any chance of upsetting the New Zealanders, their set piece will have to be better. If this aspect of their game improves and the same defensive effort as last week is shown, we can be in for a very tight match for the full 80 minutes.

Unfortunately for the Wallabies, history is very much against them. Not only are the All Blacks unbeaten against Australia at Eden Park in all 17 test matches played against their old foe, they are also unbeaten in 41 matches at this venue – and the last loss came against France in 1994. Looking at this the All Blacks will take the Bledisloe Cup for the 16th straight year.

New Zealand – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

Australia – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Folau Faingaa, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Tom Banks

Prediction – All Blacks by 10


Written By Carl Coertzen – 24/08/18