All Blacks bench Barrett brothers for Bledisloe Cup opener
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: All Blacks coach Ian Foster has opted for Damian McKenzie at fullback over Beauden Barrett for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup opener against the Wallabies in Auckland.
Barrett has been named on the bench alongside his brothers Jordie and Scott as New Zealand bid for a 21st consecutive win over Australia at Eden Park.
The streak stretches back to 1986, with the All Blacks holding trans-Tasman supremacy since 2003.
It will be a special day for All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith, who will play his 100th Test after making his international debut against Ireland back in 2012.
The starting front row is unchanged from New Zealand’s past Test outing against Fiji, with loosehead prop George Bower, hooker Codie Taylor and tighthead Nepo Laulala running out.
Former world player of the year and 83-Test lock Brodie Retallick is back as starting lock alongside captain Sam Whitelock.
In the loose forwards, Ardie Savea is at No.8, with Dalton Papalii at seven and Akira Ioane in the six jersey.
In the backs, Richie Mo’unga is again at 10, outside Smith, with David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown the midfield combination.
Rieko Ioane moves to the left wing, with Sevu Reece on the right.
“There is huge excitement in our group at what lies ahead this weekend,” Foster said.
“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.”
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Jordie Barrett.
Date: Saturday, August 7
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.05 (17.05 AEST; 07.05 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill and Mike Fraser