Aaron Smith to hit 100 for All Blacks

Planet Rugby

The All Blacks team has been named to play Australia in the opening Bledisloe Cup Test, which takes place at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

It will be a special night for scrum-half Aaron Smith, who will play his 100th Test, after making his Test debut against Ireland back in 2012.

The starting front-row is unchanged from the last Test outing against Fiji, with loosehead prop George Bower, hooker Codie Taylor and tighthead Nepo Laulala supported by props Karl Tu’inukuafe and Angus Ta’avao, together with hooker Dane Coles.

Brodie Retallick is back at starting lock alongside captain Samuel Whitelock with Scott Barrett on the bench.

In the loose forwards, Ardie Savea is at number eight, with Dalton Papalii at seven and Akira Ioane in the six jersey. Luke Jacobson is loose forward cover.

In the backs, Richie Mo’unga is again at ten, outside Smith. David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown are the midfield combination. Rieko Ioane moves to the left wing, Sevu Reece is on the right and Damian McKenzie is at full-back. Scrum-half Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett and Jordie Barrett are the back reserves.

Props Joe Moody and Ofa Tuungafasi weren’t considered for selection as they return from injuries, while the selectors have also taken a considered approach with outside back Will Jordan’s return from a slight hamstring strain.

Huge history

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said: “There is huge excitement in our group at what lies ahead this weekend. There is such a huge history with the Bledisloe Cup, the rivalry between the All Blacks and Australia goes back a long, long way, and it’s always a massive contest. The Cup isn’t ours; we have to go out and win it again. We can’t wait for the weekend.”

On Smith’s special milestone, Foster said: “He’s a special man, he’s achieved so much in the black jersey and has been an iconic player for us over the last decade. We know it’ll be a special night for him, his wife Teagan and his family.”

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Samuel Whitelock (c), 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Jordie Barrett

Date: Saturday, August 7
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:05 local (08:05 BST, 07:05 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)


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