The Rugby Championship Round 1

Picture: Jono Searle/couriermail.com.au
Australia and New Zealand have a fierce rivalry. Image courtesy of Jono Searle/couriermail.com.au
Quade Cooper has been left out of Australia's  team for the opening match of the inaugural Rugby Championship against New Zealand , with Waratahs playmaker Berrick Barnes to wear the number ten in Sydney. With James Horwill still sidelined, David Pocock will captain the side, while Anthony Faingaa and David Dennis replace injured duo Pat McCabe and Wycliff Palu.

The All Blacks have Sonny Bill Williams available after the former Chiefs man was given permission to play in the opening two matches of the tournament by his Japanese club.

During the autumn internationals played earlier in the year, Australia responded to a shock defeat at the hands of Scotland in Newcastle by clean sweeping Wales 3-0 in a hard fought Test series in June. New Zealand faced Ireland in a three games series and had no real concerns in beating them 3-0, with the 60-0 defeat in the final game an ominous warning to the Wallabies of what they can do.

Australia and New Zealand last met in the semi-finals of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, with the All Blacks scoring a 20-6 victory at Eden Park in Auckland to take their record to twelve wins from the past fourteen matches between the sides. Interestingly enough, the past two Trans-Tasman clashes at this ground have resulted in one point wins for the All Blacks.

South Africa  hosts Argentina  in the other game on the opening weekend of the competition.

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