All change for New Zealand, Australia in Bledisloe dead rubber

·3-min read
New Zealand wrapped up the four-Test Bledisloe Cup series last weekend
New Zealand wrapped up the four-Test Bledisloe Cup series last weekend

All Blacks coach Ian Foster and his Wallabies counterpart Dave Rennie both named revamped squads Thursday for this weekend's fourth Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane, with New Zealand blooding four debutants and Australia three.

Foster made eight personnel changes to his starting XV, as well as reverting Beauden Barrett to his preferred position at fly-half, with brother Jordie replacing him at fullback.

Back-rower Akira Ioane is in the starting side for his maiden Test, with fellow newcomers Asafo Aumua, Cullen Grace and Will Jordan on the bench.

Ardie Savea returns from paternity leave at number eight, while Scott Barrett and Codie Taylor come into the tight five.

New Zealand are looking to rub salt in Australian wounds after crushing them 43-5 in record-breaking fashion at Sydney last weekend to retain the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup after a draw in Wellington and victory in Auckland.

In a sign of the depth of talent available to them, Sevu Reece comes in on the right wing after failing to make the squad in Sydney and Rieko Ioane is on the left wing to replace rising star Caleb Clarke.

Foster said there was no chance of his players easing up in Brisbane.

"It's an All Blacks-Wallabies Test and that's special," he said.  

"We know how fired up they'll be, so we have to make sure we are as well, because we don't want to give ourselves any excuses at the end of it."

- Hodge surprise -

Australia are looking to bounce back from their humiliating Sydney loss, a sloppy performance marked by too many turnovers and a failure to create opportunities.

But Rennie has rung the changes, including the bombshell decision to move Reece Hodge, who usually plays wing or fullback, to playmaker at number 10, with Matt To'omua and James O'Connor both still out injured.

Rennie has also handed NSW Waratahs' enforcer Lachlan Swinton a debut aged 23 at the expense of Ned Hanigan, who drops to the bench.

Australia has struggled to find a decent blindside flanker since Scott Fardy departed for Ireland with Rennie using firstly Pete Samu then Hanigan.

Rob Valetini, Liam Wright and Fraser McReight have all been given a chance off the bench, but none has the grabbed the opportunity.

Elsewhere, veteran lock Rob Simmons takes over from the injured Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Tom Banks comes in for Dane Haylett-Petty at fullback and Tom Wright gets the nod for his first start over winger Filipo Dauguno, who had a poor performance last weekend.

And Hunter Paisami was preferred at centre to Irae Simone, who doesn't even make the bench, which includes another debutant in prop Angus Bell.

"Lachlan, Tom and Angus have been excellent over the past seven weeks and have earned their first jersey for Australia through hard work and good performances," said Rennie.

"As a whole group we were really disappointed after last weekend and we get a chance to show our character on Saturday in Brisbane."

New Zealand (15-1)

Jordie Barrett; Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Rieko Ioane; Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (capt), Akira Ioane; Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett; Ofa Tuungafasi, Codie Taylor, Karl Tu'inukuafe.

Replacements: Asafo Aumua, Alex Hodgman, Tyrel Lomax, Patrick Tuipulotu, Cullen Grace, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Will Jordan.

Australia (15-1)

Tom Banks; Tom Wright, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Marika Koroibete; Reece Hodge, Nic White; Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper (capt), Lachlan Swinton; Matt Philip, Rob Simmons; Allan Alaalatoa, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper.

Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Ned Hanigan, Liam Wright, Tate McDermott, Noah Lolesio, Filipo Daugunu.

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