PREVIEW: All Blacks v Australia First Test (Eden Park)

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Match details: All Blacks v Australia, Saturday 7 August, 7.05pm NZT, Eden Park, Auckland

 

Played: 170

Won: All Blacks 117, Australia 45, Drawn 8

Last time: Australia 24, All Blacks 22 (7 November 2020)

Referee: Paul Williams

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AARON THE CENTURION

Aaron Smith will become the first halfback in All Blacks history to play 100 Tests for the side when he takes the field on Saturday night. Since debuting against Ireland in 2012, Smith has ascended to the top echelon of halfbacks in the world game and a become critical part of the All Blacks success over the past decade. The 32-year-old has racked up many accolades during his time in the black jersey including six Rugby Championship titles, nine Bledisloe Cup defences, eight Freedom Cup victories and one Rugby World Cup title. He has also scored 21 Test tries and notched one conversion for a total tally of 107 Test points for the All Blacks.

FORTRESS EDEN PARK

With the change of playing schedule to now include back-to-back Tests at Eden Park due to the Covid-19 enforced border closure, the Wallabies have a massive task ahead to win at least one of the Tests in Auckland to keep the Bledisloe Cup alive heading into the final game in Perth on August 28. The Wallabies haven’t tasted victory at Eden Park since 1986 but head into the opening Test with confidence they can re-write history according to prop Alan Alaalatoa. “We get the opportunity that this group hasn't done before in a while which is to beat them in New Zealand, but also having the opportunity to do it at Eden Park," Alaalatoa said.

 

IN FORM WALLABIES

Although the Wallabies don’t have a great winning record at Eden Park, they come into the opening Bledisloe Cup Test in hot form. The Dave Rennie-coached side has lost just one of their last six Tests, and that loss came by just two points against France in July. They have also found a new star in the shape of 21-year-old first five-eighth Noah Lolesio who racked up an impressive 52 points in the Test series against France.

 

 

FOZZIE’S WORD

All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said he was happy with how the side had developed throughout the July series against Tonga and Fiji and feels the team is ready to go up another level against Australia. "We've got a squad that has worked really hard. The strength of the squad at the moment is they are working for each other and I think we've developed some good options, and good depth through July," Foster said.

 

BLEDISLOE CUP MEMORIES

Take a trip down memory lane with some of the great Bledisloe Cup moments from the 2000s below.

 

 

TEAMS

 

All Blacks:

1. George Bower 2. Codie Taylor 3. Nepo Laulala 4. Brodie Retallick 5. Samuel Whitelock (C) 6. Akira Ioane 7. Dalton Papalii 8. Ardie Savea 9. Aaron Smith 10. Richie Mo’unga 11. Rieko Ioane 12. David Havili 13. Anton Lienert-Brown 14. Sevu Reece 15. Damian McKenzie

 

RESERVES: Dane Coles, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Angus Ta’avao, Scott Barrett, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber,  Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett

 

Australia:

1: James Slipper 2: Brandon Paenga-Amosa 3: Allan Alaalatoa 4: Darcy Swain 5: Lukhan Salakaia-Loto 6: Rob Valetini 7: Michael Hooper (c) 8: Harry Wilson 9: Tate McDermott 10: Noah Lolesio 11: Andrew Kellaway 12: Hunter Paisami 13: Len Ikitau 14: Jordan Petaia 15: Tom Banks

 

RESERVES: Jordan Uelese, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Matt Philip, Fraser McReight, Jake Gordon, Matt To'omua, Reece Hodge

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