All Blacks team named for opening Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia
Aaron Smith to play 100th Test
The All Blacks team has been named to play Australia in the opening Bledisloe Cup Test presented by Steinlager at Eden Park on Saturday 7 August (kick-off 7.05PM).
The matchday 23 is (Test caps in brackets)
1. George Bower (3)
2. Codie Taylor (58)
3. Nepo Laulala (31)
4. Brodie Retallick (83)
5. Samuel Whitelock (125) – captain
6. Akira Ioane (4)
7. Dalton Papalii (5)
8. Ardie Savea (50)
9. Aaron Smith (99)
10. Richie Mo’unga (24)
11. Rieko Ioane (37)
12. David Havili (5)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (50)
14. Sevu Reece (10)
15. Damian McKenzie (30)
16. Dane Coles (76)
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (18)
18. Angus Ta’avao (16)
19. Scott Barrett (42)
20. Luke Jacobson (5)
21. Brad Weber (9)
22. Beauden Barrett (91)
23. Jordie Barrett (25)
It will be a special night for halfback Aaron Smith, who will play his 100th Test, after making his Test debut against Ireland back in 2012.
The starting front row is unchanged from the last Test outing against Fiji, with loosehead prop George Bower, hooker Codie Taylor and tighthead Nepo Laulala running out, supported by props Karl Tu’inukuafe and Angus Ta’avao, and hooker Dane Coles.
83-Test lock Brodie Retallick is back at starting lock alongside captain Samuel Whitelock, with Scott Barrett on the bench.
In the loose forwards, Ardie Savea is at eight, with Dalton Papalii at seven and Akira Ioane in the six jersey. Luke Jacobson is loose forward cover.
In the backs, Richie Mo’unga is again at ten, outside Smith. Second five-eighth David Havili and centre Anton Lienert-Brown are the midfield combination. Rieko Ioane moves to the left wing, Sevu Reece is on the right and Damian McKenzie is at fullback. Halfback Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett and Jordie Barrett are the back reserves.
Props Joe Moody and Ofa Tuungafasi weren’t considered for selection as they return from injuries, while the selectors have also taken a considered approach with outside back Will Jordan’s return from a slight hamstring strain.
All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said: “There is huge excitement in our group at what lies ahead this weekend. There is such a huge history with the Bledisloe Cup, the rivalry between the All Blacks and Australia goes back a long, long way, and it’s always a massive contest. The Cup isn’t ours; we have to go out and win it again. We can’t wait for the weekend.”
On Aaron Smith’s special milestone, Foster said: “He’s a special man, he’s achieved so much in the black jersey and has been an iconic player for us over the last decade. We know it’ll be a special night for him, his wife Teagan and his family.”
Stats and facts
- Aaron Smith knows the Wallabies well – he has played them 25 times. Meanwhile, Richie Mo’unga will be playing his 25th Test.
- The All Blacks and Australia will be playing their 171st Test against each other. New Zealand has won 117 of those matches, Australia 45 with eight draws.
- The last Test between the two sides was a narrow 24-22 win to Australia at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, last year.
The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003.