Every year we hear that this will be the year that Australia take back the Bledisloe Cup but every year they come up short against the World’s best rugby team and we can expect most of the same again this year
The All Blacks, although they will be away from home, should have more than enough to take another Aussie win in Sydney on Saturday. One of the key players for the All Blacks will be Beauden Barrett who will start at the number ten jersey after Cruden started the first two test in June before injuring his neck.
Barrett has been by a country mile the best ten in the world this year and his form from Super Rugby does not spell anything good for any of the other teams in this years competition.
There’s no doubt Barrett will head into this Saturday’s clash with the Wallabies riding a wave of confidence, and it’s his game management that will be key to the All Blacks’ cause as they look to start their Rugby Championship campaign on a winning note.
Tasman and Chiefs prop Kane Hames came into the All Blacks squad as an injury replacement for Joe Moody and will become the sixth new All Black of 2016 and All Black number 1152 if he takes the field.
The rest of the starting line-up has a familiar look to it with Kieran Read leading the team from number eight and he is joined in the back-row by Sam Cane and Jerome Kaino while Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick are the starting locks. Amongst the backs, Ryan Crotty and Malakai Fekitoa line up in midfield while Israel Dagg wears the number 15 jersey with Ben Smith and Waisake Naholo starting out wide and Aaron Smith at scrum-half. In the front-row, Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks are the starting props alongside hooker Codie Taylor, who comes in as a late replacement for the injured Nathan Harris.
Australia coach Michael Cheika has dropped flanker Scott Fardy from his starting XV and replaced him with Ben McCalman. Breakdown specialists Michael Hooper and David Pocock start at seven and eight, reuniting the pair for the first time since the opening June Test against England.
Returned Europe-based players Will Genia, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Matt Giteau will all reprise their roles from last year’s World Cup. Ashley-Cooper will team up with Dane Haylett-Petty on the wings alongside Israel Folau in an exciting back three. Scrum-half Genia’s start will be his first game of rugby since January, after recovering from a knee injury, and forms a half-back partnership with fly-half Bernard Foley.
The lock combination of Rob Simmons and Kane Douglas will have its first real test on home soil, while Stephen Moore continues as captain and hooker. Brumbies prop Allan Alaalatoa is in line to become the sixth Wallabies debutant of the season, named on the bench for the first time.
Predictions: All Blacks to take the win by 10 plus
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Dane Haylett-Petty, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben McCalman, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Rob Horne.
All Blacks – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Kane Hames, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Julian Savea.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)