5 changes to New Zealand team to play Australia
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Beauden Barrett has retained the starting flyhalf role in the All Blacks team to face Australia in Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup match at Brisbane as Aaron Cruden’s return from suspension is delayed.
Barrett started in New Zealand’s Rugby Championship matches against South Africa and Argentina in place of Cruden, who was suspended for two matches for missing the team’s flight to Argentina after a drinking session.
Cruden was recalled to the All Blacks squad for Saturday’s match but has not been included in the matchday lineup. Barrett keeps the No. 10 jersey and Colin Slade has been retained on the bench.
Head coach Steve Hansen has made five changes to his team for the match which is a dead rubber as New Zealand had already retained the Bledisloe Cup.
Wyatt Crockett at prop and Brodie Retallick at lock return from injuries while hooker Dane Coles and flanker Liam Messam regain their starting positions. Coles displaces Keven Mealamu who will now play his 120th test from the bench.
Corey Jane has been named on the right wing in place of Ben Smith, who is being rested after playing in all of the All Blacks’ previous tests this season.
Lock Patrick Tuipulotu, flanker Sam Cane, scrumhalf TJ Perenara and outside back Charles Piutau take join the lineup as replacements.
New Zealand enters the match after losing 27-25 to South Africa in the last match of the Rugby Championship: its first loss in 22 tests. Australia was beaten 23-21 in its last Championship match against Argentina.
Hansen said New Zealand is determined to put on a good display after that defeat, even though the three-match Bledisloe Cup series is decided. The first Cup match was drawn 12-12 in Sydney and New Zealand won the second 51-20 in Auckland. In a drawn series the holder retains the trophy.
“There is a real sense of determination in the team this week to prepare well and put in a quality performance on the weekend,” Hansen said. “There were some aspects of our game in the loss to South Africa that we weren’t happy with and we have worked hard on addressing those this week.
“There is always an expectation that when you pull on the All Blacks jersey that individually and collectively as a team, you will play well and this week is no different.”
New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Corey Jane, Conrad Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Keiran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett.
Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Colin Slade, Charles Piutau.