Australia retains unchanged squad to face NZ
SYDNEY (AP) — Kurtley Beale has kept his place as the starting flyhalf for the return Bledisloe Cup test against New Zealand, with Australia coach Ewen McKenzie retaining the 23-man squad which held the All Blacks to a 12-12 draw in the series-opening match last weekend.
McKenzie announced his team Tuesday, saying despite some basic errors in the Sydney test he was impressed with the pressure the Wallabies applied and “pleased with the intent of the group to continue attacking despite the poor weather conditions.”
The Australians are expecting dry conditions in Auckland on Saturday, and are increasingly confident of ending the All Blacks’ 32-test winning streak at Eden Park. Australia, which hasn’t won at the Auckland venue since 1986, ended New Zealand’s 17-test winning streak with the draw in Sydney.
“We know we need to be more clinical in certain areas, but overall we feel the same group of guys deserve the opportunity to have another crack,” McKenzie said.
Beale played outside Bernard Foley for the New South Wales Waratahs’ during the Super Rugby championship win, but was preferred to his provincial teammate in the playmaking role for Australia. Foley started the Sydney test on the bench, and again is backup in Auckland.
“Recent results would suggest Eden Park hasn’t been a happy place for Australia and already this week we’ve seen that not many people are giving us a chance in Auckland,” McKenzie said. “Sporting records are there to be broken and we’ll look forward to the opportunity of playing the All Blacks in their own backyard.”
Israel Folau, Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua, Rob Horne, Kurtley Beale, Nic White; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper (captain), Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Sam Carter, Sekope Kepu, Nathan Charles, James Slipper. Reserves: James Hanson, Pek Cowan, Ben Alexander, Will Skelton, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani.