Not many will give the Aussie any chance to upset the All Blacks come Saturday when they meet in Wellington but then again, the Aussies can not be any poorer than what they were last weekend.
After a successful year in 2015 the Australian rugby have been dumped into crises mode with poor performances in Super Rugby, a series lost against England at home and a humiliation at the hands of the All Blacks last weekend. One can not think that it can get any worse but it can and especially if you have to play the All Blacks win Wellington.
Under pressure Aussie coach Michael Cheika has thrown the wild card in as he picked Quade Cooper as his starting fly-half for Saturday test in Wellington. This will give Cooper and Genia again the chance to form their partnership which could be just what the Aussies need against the All Blacks.
The Aussies will be with their backs against the wall as they have not won in New Zealand against the All Blacks for the last 18 test going back to August 2001. With that the All Blacks have won their last 41 home test matches at home the longest by any team in history. The last time the All Blacks lost a test match at home was in 2009.
For the Aussies to have any chances in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship they will have to win their first ever back-to–back test matches away from home against the All Blacks.
The All Blacks were supposed to have been in a rebuilding phase this year after the likes of Carter, McCaw and Smith retired but unfortunately to the rest of the world the All Blacks looks actually even better than the team that won the World Cup last year.
With Cooper inclusion, Cheika also drop Simmons out of the side who will be replaced by Coleman paring up with Douglas in the second row. Fardy has regained his spot and will team up with Pocock and Hooper which will give the Aussies enough power at the breakdowns.
Cheikak further shook up the team as he included Kerevi as outside centre, with Kuridani on the bench.
As well as Simmons, none of Drew Mitchell, Luke Morahan or Ben McCalman travelled with the team to Wellington on Wednesday night, while Nick Frisby was a surprise addition to the touring squad.
All Black coach Steve Hansen had the luxury firstly of no panicking from his side after the great win in Australia and even have some players coming back from injury.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “Firstly, we’d like to congratulate Anton on his Test selection. He had a very good Super season with strong performances throughout and we expect him to take the step up. We’re really looking forward to seeing him play in the international arena. It’ll be a special night for Anton on Saturday and he and his family can be proud of what he has achieved.”
“We’d also like to congratulate ‘Crocky’ on what will be his 50th Test. That’s also a special milestone for an All Black. ‘Crocky’ is the ultimate team man who has worked hard throughout his career. His attitude and performances since bouncing back from non-selection for the Rugby World Cup squad in 2011 epitomises everything you want in a team member and he can be very proud of what he has achieved.”
Reflecting on the challenge this week, Hansen said: “This Test match will tell us a lot about ourselves and Australia. There’s no doubt that one of the hardest things to do in sport is to back up a big performance with another big performance. It’s totally a mental thing, so that is something we’ve been working really hard on this week: getting our feet back on the ground and our attitudes right for what is going to be a really physical and demanding Test. As always, the expectation we have placed on ourselves is to improve in everything we do.”
“Australia is a proud side and will not have been happy with their performance last week. As a result, we’re expecting them to throw everything they’ve got at us. This should lead to a very exciting, physical and high-intensity Test match with the Bledisloe Cup being in the balance.”
Wellington have been good for All Black rugby not just this year but in years gone by, it has not been easy for any team to come to Wellington and win against either the Hurricanes or the All Blacks. This weekend will be more or less the same and expect another win for the All Blacks.
Prediction: All Blacks by 15 plus although the Aussies will be better than last week.
New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Seta Tamanivalu
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Dane Haylett-Petty, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Ala’alatoa, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Will Skelton, 21 Tevita Kuridrani, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Nick Phipps
Date: Saturday, August 27
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)