The New Zealand All Blacks have announced their team to face an under-siege Wallabies outfit on Saturday.
The Wallabies have endured a distraction-filled preparation for the final Bledisloe Test match of the year, but New Zealand have assured the media they won’t be taking them lightly at Suncorp Stadium.
Coach Steve Hansen has made a number of changes, forced and otherwise, to the team that lost to South Africa at Ellis Park two weekends ago.
Cory Jane comes onto the wing in the place of the recovering Ben Smith, while Brodie Retallick has recovered from concussion concerns that saw him miss the Springboks clash. His return is a big boost for the side, as he has been one of the most dominant forwards in the Rugby Championship this year.
Liam Messam returns in the blindside flanker position in place of Jerome Kaino, and the front row sees the return of Dane Coles and Wyatt Crockett to the starting team.
Aaron Cruden continues to be ignored for the fly half spot, with Beauden Barrett starting and Colin Slade deputising, as well as covering fullback.
Hansen will be desperate to bounce back from a loss to their arch rivals, the ‘Boks, and said that although the Bledisloe Cup had been retained, they will be playing to win on Saturday.
“Anyone who has played sport will know there’s no such thing as a dead rubber. Your pride doesn’t allow that for a start. You’re playing for your country.
“There’s not a lot of love lost between Australia and New Zealand in any sport… we want to belt them and they want to belt us.”
Hansen says the off-field problems for the Wallabies will only mean the Aussies will show more steel on the field.
“As we know there’s a few things happening there so that will galvanise them to want to go out and play well.”
All Blacks team to play the Wallabies: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett.
Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Colin Slade, Charles Piutau