Controlling the controllables key at Eden Park - Foster

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New Zealand are down to their third choice at second five-eighths after losing David Havili and Quinn Tupaea within minutes during last week's Melbourne Test, while captain and flanker Sam Cane won't feature due to concussion issues.

 

Australia are without lock Darcy Swain, under a six-week suspension for causing Tupaea's injury with an illegal tackle, and flanker Rob Leota, who suffered an Achilles tendon injury, has been replaced by Harry Wilson. Caderyn Neville has replaced Swain.

 

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said in response to a question that the game had the  feel of a final rather than a knockout game.

 

"If you look at the state of the Rugby Championship, there're a few unknowns. There's some we can't control because there's a game after us, but there's a massive part we can control.

 

"We can control the quality of our performance, and we know from last week, we're playing against a team that we've got massive respect for and [who] pushed us to the wire. We have taken a lot of lessons from that. We've got to show that we've learnt from them.

 

"It's a big occasion, and we want to ensure we go out there and put our best foot forward. We've got to control what we can control, which is our performance, and then what happens after that, we'll wait and see.

 

Foster said the time spent with Jordie Barrett at second five-eighths and brother Beauden at fullback in the Melbourne Test had been a factor in starting them in the respective roles in Auckland. As a result of that combination, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will back up the midfield role from the bench.

 

 

Jordie Barrett, in the midfield, was a strong carrier, an aggressive defender who could kick and a good communicator.

 

Hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho coming off the bench allowed Codie Taylor to start. That decision reflected Taukaiaho's workload in recent weeks while Taylor had been working hard behind the scenes and was in a good space. They would be able to inject Taukei'aho in the second part of the game, where he could have an impact.

 

Scott Barrett had been working through an Achilles tendon issue over the last month, and in the final moments of the Australia Test he had been treated for a calf injury which left him in doubt.

 

Blindside flanker Shannon Frizell was not quite ready, and it was better to give him extra time over the next few weeks to recover for the northern tour. Akira Ioane will start on the blindside of the scrum with Hoskins Sotutu on the bench.

 

The choice of Sam Whitelock to captain the side in Sam Cane's absence came down to his having the role for three-quarters of the Test last week and the adjustment it needed having been out of the side for No8 Ardie Savea, who had captained earlier.

 

After the manner of the Australians' loose forward play in Melbourne there was a challenge for the All Blacks' loosies combination of Savea and Ioane and Dalton Papali'i.

 

"The Wallabies play a confrontational, close-quarter, trying to do a lot of grouping of our forwards through their carry-clean type stuff. It's an area you've got to be strong defensively," Foster said.

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