VIDEO: Wallabies make one change for Eden Park clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has made one injury-enforced change to his team as he looks to build on their upset win over the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup decider this weekend.
The Australians stunned the world champions 47-26 in Perth on Saturday and head to Auckland needing to win to claim the trans-Tasman silverware for the first time since 2002.
An All Blacks victory would level the series and see them retain the cup as holders.
The only change is Adam Coleman, who will start his first Test of 2019, replacing giant lock Rory Arnold who hurt his hand in Perth and had to be substituted.
The second row reshuffle means Rob Simmons has been named among the reserves, alongside potential debutant Liam Wright.
It is an otherwise unchanged team with Nic White and Christian Lealiifano again preferred to Will Genia and Bernard Foley in the playmaking roles with former bad boy James O’Connor retaining his position at outside centre.
Utility Adam Ashley-Cooper was named on the bench for his first Test of the year, and an appearance will hand him his 118th cap.
Along with Ashley-Cooper the reserves include Genia (103 Tests), Simmons (96) and James Slipper (89), making it the second most-capped bench the Wallabies have ever named and the first time they have boasted two Test centurions as replacements.
Injury-hit former captain David Pocock, who has barely played all season, trained with the squad this week in Melbourne, but was not included in the matchday 23.
That leaves just one Test against Samoa in Sydney on September 7 for the acclaimed flank to get match-practice ahead of the World Cup in Japan next month.
George Gregan, the last Australian captain to lift the Bledisloe Cup and the most capped Wallaby of all-time, said it was not a match to be trying new combinations.
“It’s a very important match which you want to be trying to do your best in – which they will do. But you want to get the right result, which is a win,” he told rugby.com.au
“It’s a big trophy and it means a lot to both countries. It’s a special one to have but you’ve got to work really, really hard to get it,” added Gregan, who has been working with the team this week.
It is a huge task for Australia – they have not tasted victory at Eden Park since 1986 with the All Blacks on a 42-match unbeaten streak at the Auckland venue.
Nowhere in New Zealand has been a happy hunting ground for the Wallabies, who have lost their last 22 games across the Tasman, with their last victory at Dunedin in 2001.
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Adam Ashley-Cooper.
Date: Saturday, August 17
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT, 17.35 AEST)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
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