PREVIEW: All Blacks v Australia First Test (Marvel Stadium)

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Match details: All Blacks v Australia, Thursday 15 September, 9.45pm NZT, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne


Played: 173

Won: All Blacks 120, Australia 45, Drawn 8

Last time: All Blacks 38, Australia 21 (5 September 2021)

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)




The Wallabies sent a warning shot across the bow of the All Blacks early this week when world-class wing Marika Koroibete stated that the key to beating the All Blacks was through ‘brutality’. The 30-year-old speedster said that Australia will need to pour the pressure on the All Blacks from the outset to win the game. "Just contest on the ruck. Everyone across the park needs to bring that physicality, dominate the tackle and test their ruck,” Koroibete said. "Just bring aggression on Thursday…That's what the South Africans and Argies [Argentina] did to them when they won. That's what we need to bring."


Captain Sam Cane will lead the side in a loose forward trio which has undergone forced changes with Shannon Frizell out injured and Ardie Savea remaining in New Zealand for the birth of his third child. Scott Barrett has been selected at blindside flanker, while Hoskins Sotutu is set to feature at number eight for what will be his 11th Test and first of the 2022 season. Barrett’s move to the side of the scrum sees 96-Test lock Brodie Retallick brought back into the run-on side where he will re-join long-time second row partner Samuel Whitelock. In the only change to the reserves, Akira Ioane has been brought in to provide cover alongside fellow specialist loose forward Dalton Papali’i.


An unfortunate run of injuries in the first five department for the Wallabies has led to a recall for 71-Test veteran Bernard Foley for the first time since 2019. 32-year-old Foley will combine with Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon at halfback to square off against the All Blacks duo of Aaron Smith and Richie Mo’unga. Foley has been plying his trade for Kubota Spears in Japan and will take inspiration from David Knox who was called into the Wallabies squad in similar circumstances back in 1994 for the famous mid-week victory at Sydney Football Stadium. Utility Reece Hodge will provide first five cover on the bench for Australia.


With just one point separating all four teams on the ladder the Rugby Championship is the tightest it has been in recent memory. Thursday night’s clash will be crucial to both team’s title hopes and have big ramifications on the Bledisloe Cup. A win for the All Blacks will keep the team in pole position on the ladder and ensure the Bledisloe Cup stays on New Zealand soil for an incredible 20th year. If Australia prevail in Melbourne, then the return clash at Eden Park takes on even more importance with both the Bledisloe Cup and the Rugby Championship on the line.


The opening Bledisloe Cup Test of 2022 will also mark the first time the All Blacks have met the Wallabies in Melbourne since 2010. The teams have squared off four times in Melbourne previously with the win ledger locked at 2-2. The game will also mark a rare mid-week Test for the sides. The last time the teams squared off in a midweek Test, the Wallabies come out on top 20-16 in 1994 with George Gregan pulling off an infamous tackle on Jeff Wilson to secure victory late in the match.


TEAMS (Test caps in brackets):


All Blacks


1.Ethan de Groot (8) 2.Samisoni Taukei’aho (15) 3.Tyrel Lomax (18) 4.Brodie Retallick (96) 5.Samuel Whitelock (138) 6.Scott Barrett (54) 7.Sam Cane © (84) 8.Hoskins Sotutu (10) 9.Aaron Smith (109) 10.Richie Mo’unga (39) 11.Caleb Clarke (9) 12.David Havili (20) 13.Rieko Ioane (54) 14.Will Jordan (19) 15.Jordie Barrett (43)


RESERVES: 16.Dane Coles (83) 17.George Bower (18) 18.Fletcher Newell (3) 19.Akira Ioane (17) 20.Dalton Papali’i (16) 21.Finlay Christie (10) 22.Beauden Barrett (107) 23.Quinn Tupaea (13)




1: James Slipper (c) (121) 2: David Porecki (5) 3: Allan Alaalatoa (58) 4: Jed Holloway (4) 5:Matt Philip (26) 6: Rob Leota (12) 7: Pete Samu (26) 8: Rob Valetini (25) 9: Jake Gordon (14) 10: Bernard Foley (71) 11: Marika Koroibete (49) 12: Lalakai Foketi (2) 13: Len Ikitau (19) 14: Tom Wright (16) 15: Andrew Kellaway (16)


RESERVES: 16: Folau Fainga’a (31) 17: Scott Sio (73) 18: Pone Fa’amausili (1) 19: Darcy Swain (15) 20: Fraser McReight (6) 21: Nic White (54) 22:Reece Hodge (59) 23: Jordan Petaia (20)


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