Kiwis draw closer for Dunedin battle


The All Blacks squared off with the struggling Wallabies at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) last weekend.

Now, with an eye on the World Cup, head coach Ian Foster has approached the pruning shears and made 12 changes to the Kiwis’ starting line-up.

Besides, the Rugby Championship and the Bledisloe Cup are already in the bag, aren’t they?

Only Ardie Savea, Brodie Retallick and Will Jordan retain their places in the starting fifteen for Saturday’s clash in Dunedin, while Sam Cane has recovered sufficiently from his neck injury to hold on to the captaincy reins.

“This is our last game in front of our home crowd and even if we have made a few changes, it is a good opportunity to take a step in the right direction,” said Foster.

According to Eddie Jones, the large-scale changes do not mean that the All Blacks view the game with disdain.

“I have enough things to worry about and the changes do not indicate a lack of respect,” said the Wallabies head coach.

Jones himself also made quite a few changes to his team.

Tate McDermott will captain the team for the first time after Allan Alaalatoa injured his heel in the previous game against the All Blacks.

“Tate has all the qualities to be a good captain and this is definitely a proud moment for him. This is a new era for Australian rugby and we must now build on this.”

The match kicks off at 04:35 on Saturday and the action will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

All Blacks: Will Jordan (full back), Shaun Stevenson (right wing), Braydon Ennor (outside centre), Anton Lienert-Brown (inside centre), Leicester Fainga’anuku (left wing), Damian McKenzie (fly-half), Finlay Christie (scrum-half), Ardie Savea (eighth ), Sam Cane (captain and flank), Samipeni Finau (flank), Sam Whitelock (lock), Brodie Retallick (lock), Nepo Laulala (prop), Samisoni Taukei’aho (hooker) and Tamaiti Williams (prop). Subs: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Fletcher Newell, Tupou Vaa’i, Luke Jacobson, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga and Dallas McLeod.

Wallabies: Andrew Kellaway (full back), Mark Nawaqanitawase (right wing), Jordan Petaia (outside centre), Samu Kerevi (inside centre), Marika Koroibete (left wing), Carter Gordon (fly-half), Tate McDermott (captain and scrum-half), Rob Valetini (eighth man), Tom Hooper (flank), Fraser McReight (flank), Richie Arnold (lock), Nick Frost (lock), Pone Fa’amausili (prop), David Porecki (hooker) and Angus Bell (prop). Subs: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Zane Nonggorr, Will Skelton, Rob Leota, Nic White, Quade Cooper and Izaia Perese.