All Blacks, Wallabies reshuffle lineups for 2nd Bledisloe
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The All Blacks and Wallabies have been forced to reshuffle their lineups for Saturday’s return Bledisloe Cup test in Auckland which could decide the outcome of this season’s Rugby Championship.
Sam Whitelock takes over as All Blacks captain from Sam Cane who is injured and whose absence also forces a sweeping reorganization of the New Zealand backrow.
The Wallabies also have been forced to make backrow changes in the absence of Rob Leota who will miss the rest of the season with an Achilles tendon injury. Harry Wilson returns at No. 8 while Rob Valetini moves from the back of the scrum to the blindside.
Caderyn Neville has recovered from a knee injury and will rejoin Jed Holloway in the second row.
“It’s great to have Cadeyrn available and Harry’s been working really hard to earn another opportunity in the gold jersey, so we’re excited for both of them,” head coach Dave Rennie said. “The side parked the disappointment of the last test early in the week and we have plenty to play for in Auckland on Saturday night.”
Lock Darcy Swain, who provided a talking point a week ago with his damaging cleanout on All Blacks center Quinn Tuapea, has been suspended for six matches.
Nick Frost takes Swain’s place on the Wallabies bench where prop Angus Bell has been named to make his first appearance in this season’s Rugby Championship.
New Zealand and South Africa come into the final round of the tournament level atop the points table and both with a chance of winning the trophy. The All Blacks can retain the title with a bonus-point win over the Wallabies at Eden Park.
Otherwise, South Africa might claim the title with a win over Argentina in Durban later Saturday.
“This year’s Rugby Championship is so tightly contested and our group is continuing to make shifts to improve,” All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said. “We are determined to finish the tournament strongly and we know that Australia will throw everything at us.
“This is what test match rugby is all about and we can’t wait.”
Cane failed a head injury assessment during the test between the All Blacks and Wallabies at Melbourne last week and took a limited role in training this week. New Zealand beat Australia 39-37 in that match to retain the Bledisloe Cup for a 20th straight year.
Ardie Savea returns at No. 8 after missing the Melbourne test while on paternity leave and Dalton Papali’i will start in Cane’s place on the openside flank.
Akira Ioane has been recalled on the blindside flank and Scott Barrett drops out of the match-day 23, resting an Achilles injury.
Codie Taylor has been named at hooker in a surprising selection, taking over from Samisoni Taukeiaho who scored two tries in Melbourne and has been one of New Zealand’s form players this year. Taylor was dropped earlier this season after a run of poor form.
Beauden Barrett will start at fullback in a backline reshuffled because of injuries to midfielders David Havili and Tupaea. Jordie Barrett moves from fullback to inside center in response to the loss of the two centers.
Rugby league convert Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is named on the bench to cover midfield. Props Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Nepo Laulala are also included on the bench along with Tuakeiaho.
New Zealand hasn’t lost a test at Eden Park in 28 years and hasn’t lost to Australia at the Auckland stadium since 1986.
“New Zealand supporters have an expectation that the All Blacks win at Eden Park and we’re excited to get another crack at them at their spiritual home,” Rennie said.
New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali’i, Akira Ioane, Sam Whitelock (captain), Brodie Retallick, Tyrel Lomax, Codie Taylor, Ethan de Groot. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaa’i, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Sevu Reece.
Australia: Andrew Kellaway, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Jake Gordon; Harry Wilson, Pete Samu, Rob Valetini, Cadeyrn Neville, Jed Holloway, Allan Alaalatoa, David Porecki, James Slipper (captain). Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell, Pone Fa’amausili, Nick Frost, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.
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