Quade Cooper returns for the Wallabies on Saturday. Image courtesy of news.com.au
Australia has made a string of changes to its lineup for the 2nd Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand on Saturday, with the recall of Quade Cooper the main talking point. Berrick Barnes has been shifted to inside centre in order for Quade Cooper to return at flyhalf, with Anthony Faingaa dropping out in the backline reshuffle. Following a poor performance at ANZ Stadium, Kurtley Beale has been dropped, with Drew Mitchell coming in to the XV. Injuries to skipper David Pocock and Sekope Kepu mean that Michael Hooper and Ben Alexander will start, while Stephen Moore replaces Tatafu Polota Nau at hooker. Will Genia will captain the side in the absence of Pocock.
The All Blacks have made just one forced change to their lineup, with prop Tony Woodcock replaced by Wyatt Crockett after injuring his ribs during the Rugby Championship opener. Sonny Bill Williams will play his last match for New Zealand before linking with his new club in Japan.
Woeful handling from the Wallabies in Sydney left them with an insurmountable task against the All Blacks and they can hardly afford to make the same mistakes again. Being outmuscled in the forwards was no great surprise and the forwards must gain more metres to give the backs time and space to penetrate the New Zealand defensive line.
If the loss of key players – James Horwill and James O’Connor are both out for extended periods - isn’t enough of a concern for Australia, they must also overcome a dismal record in Auckland to take the Bledisloe Cup series to a decider. The Wallabies haven’t beaten their Trans-Tasman rivals at Eden Park since 1986, with last year’s Rugby World Cup semi-final between the sides ending 20-6 to the home side.
Click here to bet on New Zealand v Australia