Ben Smith scored three tries against Austraila last week. Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro
New Zealand will be looking to secure the Bledisloe Cup for an 11th successive season when it hosts Australia at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday. By hammering the Wallabies 47-29 in Sydney last weekend, the All Blacks not only got their Rugby Championship campaign off to an ideal start but also continued their recent dominance over their fiercest rivals.
The host’s depth will be severely tested in Wellington, with fourth-choice flyhalf Tom Taylor set to make his Test debut with Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett all sidelined by injury. Brodie Retallick comes into the starting XV with Luke Romano suffering from a groin strain, while there are also several changes amongst the substitutes.
The Wallabies were outplayed all across the park last weekend but Ewen McKenzie hasn’t hit the panic button just yet, making just a forced change to his 23-man squad. With Hugh McMeniman ruled out for six months with a shoulder injury, Scott Fardy has been named at blindside flanker with Kane Douglas coming on to the bench.
Last week’s success by the All Blacks was their 100th in Test rugby against the Wallabies and they will be confident of making it 101 back on home turf. The last time Australia won across the Tasman in a Bledisloe Cup match was 12 years ago, when they scored a 23-15 victory in Dunedin. They have fond memories of the ground from the 2011 World Cup however, having beaten the USA 67-5 at Westpac Stadium in the group stage before triumphing 11-9 over South Africa in the quarter-finals.
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