PREVIEW: All Blacks v Australia first Test

Getty Images     17 Aug 2017     Getty Images

Matches played: 158
All Blacks won: 109
Australia won: 42
Draw: 7
Last match: All Blacks 37, Australia 10 (22 October 2016)
Largest All Blacks winning margin: 43-6 (1996)
Last Australia victory: 27-19 (2015)

Match details:
All Blacks v Australia, 10pm (NZT), ANZ Stadium, Sydney

The main talking points in the All Blacks 23 are the naming of Liam Squire at blindside flanker for his fourth Test start, the midfield combination of Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty and Damian McKenzie starting at fullback with Ben Smith on the right wing.


Ben Smith will be looking to finish the season on a high with appearances in the Sydney and Dunedin Bledisloe Cup Tests before a well-deserved sabbatical until the start of the 2018 Investec Super Rugby season. Last time Smith wore the 14 jersey in a Sydney Bledisloe Cup Test he walked away with three tries and will be keen to display his finishing ability on what should be a hard and fast track. Smith’s 16 Investec Rugby Championship tries also place him just one behind Richie McCaw’s New Zealand record of 17 tries in the competition.

The All Blacks locking combination of Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick have been regarded as one of the best in the world for a number of years now, but will face an immense challenge from rising Australia duo Adam Coleman and Rory Arnold. Similar to the All Blacks pairing, the Wallabies two-some are equally strong with ball in hand as they are in set-piece and on defence. Earlier in the week Sam Whitelock noted the challenge posed by Coleman and Arnold: "Both of those guys have been really physical with the way they carry the ball around the breakdown. They've been aggressive,” Whitelock said.


It is hard to find a more mouth-watering head-to-head clash than that between Sonny Bill Williams and Kurtley Beale in the midfield. Williams is back from suspension following his red card in the second Test of the Lions series and will be eager to make amends. Beale is one of the Wallabies most gifted natural athletes and will be playing his first Test since the 2015 Rugby World Cup final. While there will be plenty of fireworks in the midfield, Sonny Bill Williams may have the edge given that Beale has never played second five-eighth in a Test match before.

The All Blacks posted a 42-8 win against Australia when they last met at ANZ Stadium – the biggest win recorded at the venue in 16 international games.

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All Blacks: 1. Joe Moody 2. Codie Taylor 3. Owen Franks 4. Brodie Retallick 5. Samuel Whitelock 6. Liam Squire 7. Sam Cane 8. Kieran Read – Captain 9. Aaron Smith 10. Beauden Barrett 11. Rieko Ioane 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Ryan Crotty 14. Ben Smith 15. Damian McKenzie (2)
Reserves: 16. Nathan Harris 17. Wyatt Crockett 18. Ofa Tu'ungafasi 19. Luke Romano 20. Ardie Savea 21. TJ Perenara 22. Lima Sopoaga 23. Anton Lienert-Brown

Australia: 1. Scott Sio 2. Stephen Moore 3. Allan Alaalatoa 4. Rory Arnold 5. Adam Coleman 6. Ned Hanigan 7. Michael Hooper (c) 8. Sean McMahon 9. Will Genia 10. Bernard Foley 11. Curtis Rona* 12. Kurtley Beale 13. Samu Kerevi 14. Henry Speight 15. Israel Folau
Reserves: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (71 Tests) 17. Tom Robertson (9 Tests) 18. Sekope Kepu (80 Tests) 19. Rob Simmons (71 Tests) 20. Lopeti Timani (7 Tests) 21. Nick Phipps (52 Tests) 22. Reece Hodge (13 Tests) 23. Tevita Kuridrani (47 Tests)