Preview: New Zealand v Australia

Date published: August 26 2016

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New Zealand will look to build on their superb start to the Rugby Championship when they host Australia in Wellington on Saturday.

The All Blacks were in a belligerent mood last weekend in Sydney and they dominated in all facets of play before claiming a 42-8 triumph in the tournament opener.

What makes that result more impressive is that the three-time world champions achieved it without the services of several of New Zealand rugby's all-time greats, who retired after last year's successful World Cup campaign.

It was evident in that encounter – and against Wales in the three-Test series in June – that the players who have come in to the All Blacks starting line-up have picked up the baton and carried on with the good work and high standards set by their predecessors.

But despite delivering a clinical performance, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen believes his side will have to use different methods, to the ones which secured victory in Sydney, in Wellington.

"The picture won't be the same," he said.

"The painting we drew last week will totally be different because the opposition will be different for a start and we are going to have to find a way to win being different but that again is a side of a good team if they can do that.

"It's a good challenge for us and we'll learn a bit more about ourselves after this game."

After last weekend's humiliation, the odds are stacked heavily against the Wallabies and they will have to show considerable improvement if they want to match this All Blacks side, let alone beat them.

Little went right for them on their home turf so what are the chances of them beating the world champions in their own backyard?

A closer look at the recent history between shows that head coach Michael Cheika and his charges face an almost insurmountable task as the All Blacks have won their last 18 matches in a row at home to the Wallabies. Australia have not crossed the Tasman and won since August 2001 when they claimed a 23-15 victory in Dunedin.

Last year's campaign at the Rugby World Cup, where they reached the final before losing to New Zealand, looks like a distant memory for the Wallabies who are yet to win a Test in 2016.

Cheika is a good coach who has a proven track record and he might have some tricks up his sleeve. Turning things around within the space of a week is a difficult task, however.

Much will depend on how their pack fare in the forward exchanges. Dominating the All Blacks up front is an almost impossible task at the moment though, so just matching them there will help the visitors to set up a platform for their backs.

Preventing their hosts from gaining momentum is crucial but that is easier said than done as few sides have managed to do that against the world champions over the past 12 months.

Players to watch:

For Australia: All eyes will be on Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper, who returns to the Test arena after last playing at this level against Uruguay during the pool stages of last year's World Cup in England. When on song, Cooper is a joy to watch as his playmaking skills bring out the best in those around him and he will bring some unpredictability to the Wallabies game. But when things go wrong – something which has happened several times against the All Blacks in recent years – he has proven to be a liability and his selection is a real gamble. Playing alongside him in the number 12 jersey will be the Wallabies' first-choice pivot in recent years, Bernard Foley. This will be the first time Cooper and Foley line up in the same Wallabies side and it will be interesting to see how they fare in tandem.

For New Zealand: Midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown is making his Test debut and will be keen to settle early and make a big impact. Big things are expected from 21-year-old who is highly rated in New Zealand. He has a brilliant skillset and showed during the Chiefs' Super Rugby campaign that he can bring out the best in his team-mates with his superb playmaking skills and will hoping to do that in this Test as well. Another All Black with plenty to prove is burly winger Julian Savea who has been recalled to the run-on side after Waisake Naholo was injured in Sydney. Savea's form hasn't been at its best this season so he'll be keen to impress in front of his home crowd in Wellington. His try against Australia in Sydney took his Test points total to 200, the third most of any New Zealand player in history to have not scored a goal. That's an impressive statistic made even more remarkable considering that he has scored his 40 tries in just 44 Tests.

Head-to-head: After coming off second best in the lineouts last weekend, Australia have handed Adam Coleman his first start at Test level as a replacement for Rob Simmons. Coleman combines with Kane Douglas and their duel at the set-piece with the All Blacks' Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick should be one of the highlights of the game. Whitelock and Retallick have grown into a formidable combination and are arguably the world's best second-row combination. Coleman and Douglas will have to be at their best if they want to come out on top in this clash.

Team news: Chiefs centre Anton Lienert-Brown will win his first Test cap for the All Blacks. He comes in for the injured Ryan Crotty in one of four changes to the matchday 23. Prop Joe Moody returns from injury to start at loosehead prop, with Wyatt Crockett set to play his 50th Test from the bench. In the other changes, James Parsons’ experience sees him named at replacement hooker, while Seta Tamanivalu is in the 23 jersey as backline cover. When he takes the field this weekend, Wyatt Crockett will not only play his 50th Test, but also his 300th first-class match.

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has named Quade Cooper to start at fly-half. Cooper will combine with usual Wallabies pivot Bernard Foley in a dual playmaker structure, with Foley starting at inside centre. Rob Simmons has been dropped from the side entirely with Adam Coleman taking his place in the run-on side. Blindside flanker Scott Fardy has regained his starting spot, playing alongside Michael Hooper and David Pocock in the Wallabies back-row. Samu Kerevi has also been called up to start at outside centre. Tevita Kuridrani has been named on the bench, alongside rookie utility back Reece Hodge and scrum-half Nick Phipps as backs replacements, while Dean Mumm and Will Skelton will be injected off the bench for the forwards.

Previous results:

2016: New Zealand won 42-8 in Sydney
2015: New Zealand won 34-17 at Twickenham
2015: New Zealand won 41-13 in Auckland
2015: Australia won 27-19 in Sydney
2014: New Zealand won 29-28 in Brisbane
2014: New Zealand won 51-20 in Auckland
2014: The sides drew 12-12 in Sydney
2013: New Zealand won 41-33 in Dunedin
2013: New Zealand won 27-16 in Wellington
2013: New Zealand won 47-29 in Sydney
2012: The sides drew 18-18 in Brisbane
2012: New Zealand won 22-0 in Auckland
2012: New Zealand won 27-19 in Sydney
2011: New Zealand won 20-6 in Auckland
2011: Australia won 25-20 in Brisbane
2011: New Zealand won 30-14 in Auckland

Prediction: The All Blacks are playing on home soil and should have little trouble in winning this one. Although the Wallabies will be more competitive, the All Blacks will win by 18 points!

The teams:

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)

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