New Zealand v Australia Bledisloe Cup Starting Lineups and Stats
We've appended the respective articles from NZ and Australia rugby with rosters below. Some stats provided by World Rugby.
Head to head:
Played 166 – New Zealand leads 115-44 with seven draws
Points for: New Zealand 3,552 / Australia 2,365
Average score: New Zealand 21-14 Australia
First met: 15 August, 1903 – New Zealand 22-3 Australia – Sydney
Last met: 17 August, 2019 – New Zealand 36-0 Australia – Auckland
NEW ZEALAND (2) 92.12 v AUSTRALIA (7) 81.91
• A New Zealand victory will have no impact on the rating of either side given the 10.21 point difference between the sides before home weighting is factored in
• Australia will climb two places to fifth if they avoid defeat, leapfrogging France and Wales – their highest position since September 2018
• New Zealand cannot fall from second, even with a loss by more than 15 points
• 2010 was the last time there were four Bledisloe Cup matches in a calendar year
• This will be the 50th Bledisloe Cup series since the cup was inaugurated in 1931
• New Zealand have held the Bledisloe Cup since a 2-0 triumph in 2003
• Australia have not beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand since 11 August, 2001 (23-15 at Carisbrook) – a run of 23 defeats
• New Zealand’s last test was 346 days ago, when they beat Wales 40-17 in the RWC 2019 bronze final in Tokyo
• Both sides have new coaches at the helm in Ian Foster and Dave Rennie NZ Roster & Article from AllBlacks.com
1. Joe Moody (46)
2. Codie Taylor (50)
3. Ofa Tuungafasi (35)
4. Patrick Tuipulotu (30)
5. Samuel Whitelock (117)
6. Shannon Frizell (9)
7. Sam Cane (68) - captain
8. Ardie Savea (44)
9. Aaron Smith (92)
10. Richie Mo'unga (17)
11. George Bridge (9)
12. Jack Goodhue (13)
13. Rieko Ioane (29)
14. Jordie Barrett (17)
15. Beauden Barrett (83)
16. Dane Coles (69)
17. Karl Tu'inukuafe (13)
18. Nepo Laulala (26)
19. Tupou Vaa'i - debut
20. Hoskins Sotutu - debut
21. TJ Perenara (64)
22. Anton Lienert-Brown (43)
23. Caleb Clarke - debut
The matchday 23 is an exciting blend of experience and rising, young talent, with the selection of three new All Blacks on the bench: lock Tupou Vaa'i, loose forward Hoskins Sotutu and winger Caleb Clarke.
The All Blacks starting pack features the experienced front row of Joe Moody at loosehead prop, Ofa Tuungafasi in the number three jersey, and 50-Test hooker Codie Taylor in the number two jersey. Props Nepo Laulala and Karl Tu'inukuafe and hooker Dane Coles, playing in his 70th Test, will provide front row impact off the bench. Samuel Whitelock will play his 118th Test at lock (becoming the fourth equal most capped All Black of all time, alongside Tony Woodcock) alongside Patrick Tuipulotu, while in the loose forwards, All Blacks Captain Sam Cane is at seven, Shannon Frizell gets the nod at blindside flanker, while Ardie Savea starts at number eight.
In the backs, Aaron Smith will play his 93rd Test at halfback, with TJ Perenara providing cover off the bench in his 65th Test. Richie Mo'unga starts at ten while Jack Goodhue at 12 and Rieko Ioane in his first Test start at centre make up the midfield. Anton Lienert-Brown is midfield cover from the bench. The starting back three is Jordie Barrett on the right wing, George Bridge on the left, with Beauden Barrett at fullback.
All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said he and fellow selectors John Plumtree and Grant Fox had kept an open mind about selections.
"We really wanted to see how players adapted and fitted in and how comfortable they were coming back into the environment and so there were a number of positions that we wanted to keep an open mind about," he said.
"We're excited by the group. There's a lot of talent in there and we've got players jumping out of their skin and wanting an opportunity. It's been fantastic to come together and know at the end of the week there's a Test match. There's been a lot of hard work, but the tightness of the group and the desire and the excitement about playing an international game is right up there."
Foster is anticipating a fast, hectic, high-intensity contest from both teams.
"It's a Bledisloe series and both teams will be determined to put a marker down. For us, it's about getting our basics right and focussing on our set piece and momentum, and then letting the guys use their skillsets around the structure."
Meanwhile, Foster has a message for All Blacks fans who have waited a long time for the return of Test rugby, especially those in attendance at Sky Stadium on Sunday.
"Just be loud and enjoy it. Whilst this is a massive game for us and the Bledisloe means everything, it's also, in some way, a bit of a celebration after everything we've been through. For those that love the game, we just have to enjoy it and hopefully, together with the Wallabies, we can put on an occasion that befits that."
The All Blacks and Australia will be playing their 167th Test against each other. New Zealand has won 115 of those matches, Australia 44 with seven draws. The All Blacks and Wallabies last played each other in Perth and Auckland during last year's Investec Rugby Championship with Australia winning 47-26 in Perth and the All Blacks 36-0 in Auckland. The All Blacks have held The Bledisloe Cup (played between New Zealand and Australia) since 2003.
21-year-old Caleb Clarke was in scintillating form during Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa and was one of the best performers for the Blues in his six appearances in 2020. The son of 1992-1998 All Black Eroni, Clarke is an explosive winger who has a knack of claiming silverware, leading Mt Albert Grammar to the National 1st XV title in 2016 and as a member of the New Zealand Under 20 team that claimed the World Championship in 2017, the Auckland Mitre 10 Cup-winning side in 2018 and this year's World Series winning All Blacks Sevens team.
22-year-old loose forward Hoskins Sotutu spent most of his rugby growing up playing in the backline, emulating his father Waisake who also played for Auckland and the Blues. It was only in the later stages of his schooling that Sotutu moved to the forward pack and he has since gone on to play for the New Zealand Under 20s, Auckland in the Mitre 10 Cup and made his Super Rugby debut off the bench in 2019. This season Sotutu turned heads as a powerful ball carrier and relentless defender. He was among the competition's best with more than 100 carries and 80 tackles.
A former Wesley College Head Prefect and First XV captain, 20-year-old Tupou Vaa'i is the latest player to etch their mark in the school's proud history of producing All Blacks. Vaa'i made his provincial debut for Taranaki as an 18 year old in 2018 and the following year made six appearances for the New Zealand Under 20 side. In 2020 Vaa'i stepped up to Super Rugby, playing all seven matches in Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa and emerging as bright prospect which the Chiefs recognised in extending his contract through to 2023. Australia Roster & Article from rugby.com.au
WALLABIES (1-15): James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Matt Philip, Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper, Pete Samu, Nic White, James O'Connor, Marika Koroibete, Matt To'omua, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, Tom Banks
RESERVES: Jordan Uelese, Scott Sio, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Rob Valetini, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Reece Hodge
Uncapped Reds trio Hunter Paisami, Harry Wilson and Filipo Daugunu will make their debuts for the Wallabies after Dave Rennie named his first side to take on the All Blacks at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Sunday afternoon (2pm AEDT).
Brumbies playmaker Noah Lolesio meanwhile is in-line to make his debut too, after being named on the bench.
Rennie, who won back to back titles with the Chiefs in his first two years at the New Zealand franchise, has largely opted for experience in the key positions, resisting the urge to throw the likes of Fraser McReight and Tate McDermott in the mix despite eye-catching performances in Super Rugby AU.
But the Wallabies have received a blow, with world class back Jordan Petaia held back after failing to prove his fitness after an injury last month. Both he and Dane Haylett-Petty are expected to be fit for the second Test in Auckland a week later.
Rennie said the team was picked with an attacking mind-set, but emphasised the need to defend well to have a chance of beating the All Blacks.
"Yep, that’s (attack) our mindset," Rennie told reporters.
"We’re all well aware of the power in the game the All Blacks will play.
"We’re trying to grow this side, not just for this weekend but for the future.
"We’ve put a lot of emphasis around defence though and we know that’s going to be really important. The teams that have beaten the All Blacks in the past have limited [teams] to less than 15 or 16 points. That’s our challenge."
Rather than throwing Lolesio to the wolves, Reds playmaker James O'Connor will play his first Test in the No.10 jersey since he played fly-half against the British and Irish Lions in 2013.
"James has got better and better at 10," Rennie said.
"I’ve been really impressed with him. He understand the game inside out, he’s really clear on his role, he’s been demanding of others."
He will be partnered in the halves by experienced halfback Nic White, who wore the No.9 jersey throughout last year's World Cup. Jake Gordon is in-line to play his second Test, after beating uncapped livewire McDermott on the bench.
Rennie said that Gordon's game-management had given him the nod over McDermott.
"Like a number of spots it’s tight. I thought Tate was excellent for the Reds, he’s a real impact player and his ability to attack," he said.
"In the end we looked at Jake who has a better kicking game. We figured that would be really important in pressure situations. There’s not a lot between those guys."
Veteran playmaker Matt To'omua has been selected at inside centre and will provide a steadying voice for Paisami - the 22-year-old explosive Reds centre, who less than two years ago was sleeping on the couch of his agent's office - at outside centre.
Paisami has been thrown in the deep end after his Reds teammates Petaia ran out of time to prove he was fit to play 80 minutes against the All Blacks after suffering a hip flexor injury against the Brumbies in the Super Rugby AU final last month.
Brumbies flyer Tom Banks will play just his seventh Test after being selected in his preferred position of fullback.
Banks will be joined in the back three by last year's John Eales Medalist Marika Koroibete, while Reds winger Daugunu will partner him on the right-wing.
Meanwhile, Reds No.8 Wilson will cap a sensational year by making his debut at blindside flanker.
Wilson was the breakout star of 2020, spinning heads all year including Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, who said that he had "fallen for" the Reds back-rower.
He will be joined by captain Michael Hooper in the back-row, as well as Pete Samu who makes his return to the side after being controversially looked past in 2019.
In the tight-five, Taniela Tupou's explosiveness and stellar year for the Reds has seen him promoted ahead of Allan Alaalatoa.
He will partner James Slipper and hooker Folau Fainga'a in the front-row.
It's a brand new second-row combination, too, with Matt Philip to play his first Test since 2018, while Lukhan Salakaia-Loto has unsurprisingly been picked alongside him.
On the reserves, Rennie has opted for experience with Rob Simmons named alongside Scott Sio and Jordan Uelese.
Powerful Brumbies back-rower Rob Valetini covers the back-row.
Utility back Reece Hodge joins Gordon and Lolesio in a five forwards, three backs bench split.