Match details: Australia vs All Blacks, Saturday 31 October, 9.45pm NZT, ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Won: All Blacks 116, Australia 44, Drawn 8
Last time: All Blacks 27, Australia 7 (18 October 2020)
Throughout his tenure with the Chiefs in Super Rugby, Rennie revealed an outstanding quality in getting lesser lights to shine when injuries invariably hobbled his teams. He will need to do the same as the Australians must win on Saturday to force the game to a series decider in Brisbane a week later.
Rennie said problems in the lost second Test, at Eden Park, could be sorted by selection and he will play that card in Sydney. One change, the loss of first five-eighths James O'Connor to a knee injury, will see Noah Lolesio come into the side after a fine season with the Brumbies. The loss of second five-eighths Matt To'omua to a groin injury will see Irae Simone make his Test debut. No sooner was fullback Dane Haylett-Petty recovered from injury than he was whistled into the side ahead of Tom Banks. Starting roles as a result of rotation are tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa for Taniela Tupou and centre Jordan Petaia for Hunter Paisami. Two other changes have been on the bench with loose forward Fraser McReight and halfback Tate McDermott brought in.
Clash of the tyros
Two of the most promising loose forwards in world rugby will go head-to-head off the back of their respective scrums in Sydney. Dynamic Blues ball carrier and runner Hoskins Sotutu's remarkable advance will continue after he gained his starting place as the result of Ardie Savea's paternity absence. Australia's Harry Wilson, who had such a significant impact in the loose in Auckland, having played on the side of the scrum in the drawn first Test of the series, has retained his place to work alongside flankers Michael Hooper and Ned Hanigan. Both players have similar qualities although Sotutu may prove the more explosive runner. That will be reliant on the All Blacks' front five laying a suitable foundation.
Staking a claim
Lolesio is a player with a long-term future at first five-eighths and Saturday will be a tough introduction to this level of the game, especially when Irae Simone is also debuting outside him. Their lack of experience alone makes their channel fragile. Should they be able to absorb the likely pressure, it will be the forerunner of many more Bledisloe Cup contests. But with the All Blacks inside-back combination of, Richie Mo'unga and Jack Goodhue in the five-eighths, Beauden Barrett often operating as a first receiver and centre Anton Lienert-Brown running back on angles, their hands will be full in containment. It is a calculated risk on Rennie's part but one that could have some long-term consequences, especially when looking at plans for the Rugby World Cup in 2023.
Something for the statisticians
If wing Jordie Barrett scores 11 more points in the two Tests in Australia, he and brother Beauden will be the first brothers in world rugby to have scored 100 points each in Test rugby. Should Beauden score a try, it will mean his 12 tries would be the most by any player in the world against Australia. Halfback Aaron Smith, who will play his 95th Test will move into the top 10 of appearances for the All Blacks. Two tries for the New Zealanders on Saturday would see ANZ Stadium became the venue at which they have scored most Test tries outside New Zealand. The Sydney Cricket Ground holds the record with 71.
The teams are:
Australia: 1.James Slipper, 2.Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3.Allan Alaalatoa, 4.Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5.Matt Philip, 6.Ned Hanigan, 7.Michael Cooper (captain), 8.Harry Wilson, 9.Nic White, 10.Noah Lolesio, 11.Marika Koroibete, 12.Irae Simone, 13.Jordan Petaia, 14.Filipo Daugunu, 15.Dane Haylett-Petty.
Substitutes: 16.Jordan Uelese, 17.Scott Sio, 18.Taniela Tupou, 19.Rob Simmons, 20.Fraser McReight, 21.Tate McDermott, 22.Reece Hodge, 23.Hunter Paisami.
All Blacks: 1.Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2.Dane Coles, 3.Ofa Tuungafasi, 4.Patrick Tuipulotu, 5.Samual Whitelock, 6.Shannon Frizell, 7.Sam Cane (captain), 8.Hoskins Sotutu, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Richie Mo'unga, 11.Caleb Clarke, 12.Jack Goodhue, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Jordie Barrett, 15.Beauden Barrett.
Substitutes: 16.Codie Taylor, 17.Alex Hodgman, 18.Tyrel Lomax, 19.Scott Barrett, 20.Dalton Papalii, 21.TJ Perenara, 22. Ngani Laumape, 23.Rieko Ioane.