Welcome to live coverage of the Bledisloe I between the Wallabies and All Blacks at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne. Kick-off: 7:45pm.
The Wallabies can take one giant step forward towards ending two decades of Bledisloe Cup pain if they can beat the All Blacks in their opening Rugby Championship Test tonight.
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It’s been 20 years since the Wallabies last won the Bledisloe Cup, with a late try to Mat Rogers an after-the-buzzer penalty from Matt Burke sealing victory in 2002.
But since then it has been one-way traffic, with the All Blacks dominating the trans-Tasman rivalry.
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Dave Rennie has made eight changes to his side that lost their most recent Rugby Championship encounter to the Springboks in Sydney for the clash, with two of those — fly-half Noah Lolesio and inside centre Hunter Paisami (concussion.) — because of injury.
Headlining the changes is Bernard Foley, whose three-year Test exile is over after the Japan-based playmaker was recalled following Quade Cooper’s season-ending injury and James O’Connor’s form problems.
It will be his 16th Test against the All Blacks, where he has managed just two wins and a draw from 15 Tests.
He will partner Jake Gordon for the first time since 2018, when the Waratahs halfback debuted against Italy.
Gordon has been promoted ahead of Nic White, who struggled against the Springboks.
While his Waratahs teammate Lalakai Foketi replaces Paisami at inside centre and Andrew Kellaway starts ahead of Reece Hodge at fullback.
Up front and Rennie has also tweaked his forward pack, with hooker Dave Porecki switching with Folau Fainga’a while Jed Holloway shifts to the second-row following Rory Arnold’s departure to Japan.
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Rob Leota has been promoted to start at blindside flanker and he joins Brumbies duo Pete Samu and Rob Valetini in the back-row.
The All Blacks have named a settled side following their massive 53-3 response against Argentina following their loss to the South Americans.
But Brodie Retallick has been recalled to the starting side after proving his fitness while Ardie Savea’s absence allows Hoskins Sotutu to start at No.8, with Scott Barrett joining captain Sam Cane in the back-row.
Cane said the fear of being the All Blacks side to give up the Bledisloe Cup was a motivating factor.
“Winning and losing are both strong motivators but in different ways,” Cane said at the All Blacks captain’s run at Lakeside Stadium on Wednesday.
“Yeah, there’s a fear of losing it, there’s the pressure, but you look at that in a positive spin too, it’s something that motivates us to make sure it’s not on our watch.
“At the moment the way we view it is no-one’s holding the trophy, when it comes up for grabs again each year it’s on the line. And this year both teams have a good chance of winning it, so it’s up to us to get out there and take it.”
WALLABIES (15-1): Andrew Kellaway, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Jake Gordon, Rob Valetini, Pete Samu, Rob Leota, Matt Philip, Jed Holloway, Allan Alaalatoa, Dave Porecki, James Slipper (c)
Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio, Pone Fa’amausili, Darcy Swain, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia
ALL BLACKS (15-1): Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, David Havili, Caleb Clarke, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Cane (c), Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Tyrel Lomax, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ethan de Groot
Reserves: Dane Coles, George Bower, Fletcher Newell, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papali’i, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Quinn Tupaea
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